Russian Zakharov leads He into 3m semis

Russia's Ilya Zakharov broke the Chinese domination as the top qualifier into the semi-finals of the men's Olympic 3m springboard on Monday.

Zakharov, who took silver in the 3m synchronised springboard with Evgeny Kuznetsov behind China on Wednesday, relegated defending champion He Chong to second in the top 18 qualifiers for Tuesday's semis.

The 21-year-old Russian scored 507.65 points from his six dives to lead He (500.90) by 6.75 points into the semis.

Chinese have already won the opening five diving events as they target an unprecedented clean sweep of all eight gold medals in London after finishing with seven of the eight golds in Beijing four years ago.

Zhakarov, who finished runnerup behind He at last year's Shanghai world championships, clinched the top qualifying spot with a brilliant forward 4.5 somersault on his final dive which netted him 91.20.

"I'm really satisfied with my diving today, but the first thing is to do a good job in the semi-final," Zakharov said.

"Tomorrow will be a really tough competition. The level of all the athletes is really good, but it's the Olympics, anything can happen."

He, a two-time world champion, was consistent not scoring less than 73.50 and pulled out 91.20 for his forward 4.5 somersault, although he was topped by the Russian in the final dive.

Qin Kai, who won the 3m synchronised springboard gold with Luo Yutong, fell back through the field with an uncharacteristic blunder when he lost his balance on his penultimate dive, a forward four and a half somersaults in the tuck position, and scored just 39.90 points, about half the anticipated total.

It was a glitch he was unable to recover from and he filled 11th spot with 451.60, but he will be relieved that the points do not carry over into the semis and he will start on Tuesday with a clean slate.

"I stepped half a step too much off the board," Qin said. "It's good. At least I got into the semi-final. I will improve later."

American Troy Dumais, a bronze medal in the synchro springboard and a four-time world silver medallist, turned in sixth consistent rounds to finish third with 486.60.

"If I do the dives I'm capable of in front of the judges, I will do well. I'm just going to give it my best," Dumais said.

Patrick Hausding was fourth with 477.15 but his German teammate Stephan Feck failed to complete the competition after coming off the worst on his third dive.

"I tried to give him (Feck) some encouragement, it was really hard for him because it was his only event here," Hausding said.

"In his first Olympic Games. It is something he won't want to remember. He will just have to get over it."

Canada's Alexandre Despatie, a two-time Olympic silver medallist who hit his head on the board and gashed his skull six weeks ago in Madrid, was a fighting ninth with 458.55.

"I was a bit annoyed at the beginning, but it got better as time went on," Despatie said.

"In the semi-final I am keeping the same dives. I did not make any big mistakes."

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