Chinese "robot" discovers even a perfect 10 is not good enough for gold when performance plummets soon after.

Germany’s Sacha Klein takes the spotlight during the men’s 10-metre platform final at the Hamdan Sports Complex.  Francois Nel / Getty Images / 22 March 2014
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DUBAI // Such is the robotic consistency of Chinese diver Bo Qiu that, ahead of the Fina Diving World Series finale, one staff member at the Hamdan Sports Complex likened the 21 year old to an automaton.

As if intent on living up to the comparison, Bo, during the men’s 10-metre platform finals, scored a binary code.

The seven judges scored him: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10.

A series of perfect 10s is not as uncommon as might be expected. What is uncommon is that the recipient would then fail to take the gold medal. Bo’s system appeared to malfunction on his fifth of six dives as he followed up his perfect dive with the lowest score of the evening – one that two of the judges scored 3.5.

That result propelled Victor Minibaev of Russia to the top of the scoreboard with one round to go and when Bo failed to nail his final dive – two-and-a-half somersaults followed by three twists – a shock end to the competition was confirmed in favour of Minibaev.

David Boudia of the United States finished third, ahead of Team GB's Tom Daley.

Bo rejected suggestions he was affected by his perfect 10s and put his poor fifth dive down to being uneasy performing twists.

“I acted as normal. Nothing was different mentally and I did quite a good job in the last dive so feel quite happy about it all,” Bo said, through a translator.

“[In the fourth dive] I wasn’t comfortable doing twists so planned to do another action instead.

“I changed temporarily, but didn’t present very well.”

Boudia, who took gold at the London Olympics in 2012, said he usually tries to block out his rivals’ scores when he performs, but was unable to avoid hearing the PA system announcing Bo’s perfect 10s.

“I am a train-wreck when it comes to that,” he said of hearing the scores.

“I learnt when I was 14 or 15 that if I start following the score, my name will gradually slip down the board.

“Before and after me, you can hear the 8s, 9s and 10s, so you know it is close, but if you start looking at the scoreboard it plays mind games with you.

“It’s funny though, because we are through the back and we hear ‘10,10,10 ...’ and we’re like: ‘China, of course’,” Boudia said.

“It’s surprising he missed two of his dives at the end, but that is what diving is all about.

“It’s a sport with lots of pressure that on any given day, any diver can win and Victor showed that.”

Earlier, China’s Huixia Liu took gold ahead of Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Roseline Filion of Canada in the women’s 10m platform.

Liu said she was delighted with her individual performance and will focus now on improving her synchro performance.

The third round of the series takes place in London next month.

Boudia said returning for the first time to the scene where he won his gold medal will be an emotional experience.

“The year after the Olympic Games was probably the hardest year of my entire life: trying to re-evaluate goals, re-evaluate why I am diving,” he said.

“There are a lot of emotions that come because you grow up dreaming about winning Olympic gold, so walking into the pool will definitely bring back lots of memories. Hopefully I can repeat the performance.”

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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