Sat, August 11, 2012
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Is being at home an advantage, or a burden in disguise?

2012-08-11 04:04:13 GMT2012-08-11 12:04:13(Beijing Time)  China Daily

Britain's Tom Daley rests in between dives in the men's synchronised 10m platform final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre July 30, 2012. (Photo/Agencies)

As British diving star Tom Daley prepared to face China's Qiu Bo on Saturday, four-time Olympic gold winner Guo Jingjing - the world's most successful diver - pointed out that competing at home brings greater pressure.

"It's very hard to predict (who will win), especially at the Olympic Games," Guo said.

"(Daley's) performance could be really good, but underperformance is also possible because of the stress. There are definitely home-turf advantages, but also the disadvantage of additional pressure."

China's retired diving queen said she faced "the same big pressures and advantages" when she competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where she won two gold medals.

Qiu is widely considered the favorite to win the men's 10m platform on Saturday.

The 19-year-old from China's Sichuan province won two gold in the platforms in the World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai last year.

But Qiu finished second in the 2009 World Champions in Rome, losing the title to Daley, who was then 15 years old.

The 18-year-old from Plymouth is seen as the most competitive contender to upset Chinese divers' goal of winning all eight gold in London.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he finished seventh in the individual platform and eighth in the synchronized with his partner, Blake Aldridge.

Chinese divers won seven gold medals in Beijing in 2008 and only lost the men's 10m.

"Pressure isn't a bad thing," Daley had said before the London Games.

"I quite like it. Divers either handle it or they don't. Pressure should bring out the best in you because you have that extra adrenalin rush."

Daley had told the (London) Guardian: "Normally in diving, silver is gold because the Chinese dominate everything. But then you never know what's going to happen in the Olympic Games.

"Take Athens 2004. The Greek team didn't even qualify, but got in because they were the host country Anything can happen in the Olympic Games."

Greek duo Thomas Bimis and Nikolaos Siranidis won gold in the men's 3m synchronized dive, beating much more competitive divers from China and Russia.

Despite his confident words, Daley and Peter Waterfield finished fourth in the men's 10m synchronized platform on the Games' third day.

The British duo led the first three dives but failed the fourth of six in total.

"You can't afford to miss a dive at this standard. Bring on individual!" Daley tweeted after the game.

But despite the poor start, Daley remains Qiu's major threat.

Xiong Ni, another retired diver who won three gold Olympic medals in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, said he believes competing on home turf is advantageous.

"It'll be more difficult for Chinese divers this time than in Beijing because it was China's home territory," he said.

"I think Daley will be a strong rival for Chinese divers in the next few years."

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