FINA World Championships 2019 | As it happened: Day 4

Olympic Channel were on site in Korea as the World Championships continued with Tokyo 2020 qualifying on the line. Follow it right here

By ZK Goh and Andrew Binner ·

Olympic Channel are on site at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

There were Tokyo 2020 Olympic quota spots on offer today, Monday 15 July, in diving. Meanwhile, men's water polo got underway.

You can re-live all of Monday's action with our blog below (newest updates first). Come back for daily live blogs throughout the Championships.

Alternatively, you can catch up with what happened on Sunday 14 July here.


12 - 28 Jul 2019

FINA World Championships - Gwangju

South Korea

All times below are Korean Standard Time (UTC+9 hours).

11:23 pm – That's it for today

Another day done in Gwangju! Thanks for joining us, as always.

Five days remain in the diving and artistic swimming competitions here in South Korea, so do join us again tomorrow when we'll see finals in the team events in both disciplines.

Plus, there's the Men's 10 km open-water swim tomorrow morning, which carries with it Olympic qualifying spots for the top 10.

See you then!

11:05 pm – Daley and Lee react

All things considered, Daley and Lee sounded pretty happy with their result when we spoke to them after the competition.

Daley in particular expressed his relief at securing Great Britain a quota spot for Tokyo 2020.

"That was the main thing at this point in the Olympic cycle," he said.

"Bronze is as good as gold in my eyes, just to be able to get to the Olympic Games in the first place. That is often the hardest thing because in the synchro event there's only eight teams that get to qualify. To be able to do it this far out in advance, I've never been in this position with any synchro partner in the past."

A poor dive in round five wrecked the pair's chances of winning silver, but Daley shrugged it off.

"We knew we could have got a silver medal. To have a bit of a bad day, you could say, and come away with a bronze medal, you've got to see some light in that."

Lee, who is originally from the northern English city of Leeds, has moved to London to train alongside Daley, which the latter says is important for their partnership building up to Tokyo.

Responding to the Olympic Channel, Daley said: "The fact that we're going to get to train together every single day and do some kind of synchro every single day is something that I've never had with any other synchro partner because I've always had to travel or they've had to travel to me.

"So being able to get that familiarity, even just being with Matty every day, just knowing what he's like... If he's in a bad mood, if he's in a good mood. Like, little things like that so you know how to approach each other in competitive environments. Because if you don't really know a person that well, it can be difficult."

You can read our report on the final here.

Matthew Lee and Tom Daley of Great Britain pose during the medal ceremony for the Men's 10m Synchro Platform Final on day four of the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships at Nambu International Aquatics Centre on July 15, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

10:38 pm – Daily gallery

While we wait to hear from our diving medallists, why not check out our daily selection of today's best photos from Gwangju?

FINA World Championships Day 4 - the best photos

10:12 pm – China win diving gold again

Bondar and Minibaev are up. Back 2.5 somersaults 2.5 twists in the pike position. Crucially, the degree of difficulty here is 3.6.

That's solid. 88.56.

A big ask for Daley and Lee to surpass that, who are doing forward 4.5 somersaults in the tuck position. Degree of difficulty is 3.7.

Synchro looks out on the slow-mo replays, but that's 89.91 for the dive and that means they are guaranteed bronze! Russia have silver at least, and Ukraine are out of the medals.

Here come Cao and Chen to cap another dominant Chinese performance. They've cracked the 90-point mark, 93.96 for that last dive.

So, China, Russia and Great Britain have sealed Tokyo 2020 qualifying spots. A total of 486.93 for China, 42 points clear of Russia, with GB another 18 points behind.

Stay tuned, we'll bring you reaction from the divers when we get it.

9:59 pm – Ukraine threat fizzles out

Ukraine are up for their final dive. There is a world bronze medal on the line here.

The coaches like it, but will the judges? 77.76 on a slightly lower-tariff dive. That could be a reprieve Daley and Lee need.

9:57 pm – China's to lose

It looks like China will make it seven golds from seven. 21 points clear heading into this round would suggest it's a fight between Russia and Great Britain for silver and bronze.

Bondar and Minibaev have nominated forward 4.5 somersaults in the tuck position for their fifth round dive, and that's definitely an improvement on their last attempt. The difficulty grade has bumped that dive's score up to a 95.46.

Can Daley and Lee hang on to silver in this round? Reverse 3.5 somersaults in the tuck position. The reaction isn't massive from their coach. A lower degree of difficulty, and it looks like they were out on both synchro and Lee's execution. The judges agree. 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 for Lee, who appeared to over-rotate, and they're behind the Russians now.

No problems for Cao and Chen, who're well clear. Russia now have a 20-point lead on Daley and Lee, who are watching over their shoulders as Ukraine's Sereda and Serbin sit less than two points behind.

9:42 pm – High standard

The Russians are going with back 3.5 somersaults in the pike position for dive number four and... oh! That did not look like a clean entrance to the pool. Is the door open for the Brits?

Fours and fives. Ouch. Here come Daley and Lee doing the same dive, 13 points behind Bondar and Minibaev.

Wow! That's superb, that's how that dive is done. Their coach is ecstatic. Nines and 9.5s, they've overtaken the Russians. 97.20 for that dive!

Here come Cao and Chen with the same dive.

They are absolute machines. The same 97.20 for them, so they extend their lead at the top of the standings. An incredible standard of competition – they've cracked 300 points, 21 and a bit ahead of Daley and Lee.

9:28 pm – Halfway

Reverse 3.5 somersaults tuck for Bondar and Minibaev, with a degree of difficulty of 3.4.

The last two teams to dive both entered with a splash and got marked down, but not bad here – there's even a 10 in there for Minibaev! It gets chalked off as his highest score though. 86.70 for the Russians.

Inward 3.5 somersaults tuck for Daley and Lee. That didn't look like a particularly clean entry and the British coach looks worried. Rightly so, but the Brits will stay in the medals at the halfway point.

Cao and Chen have opted for the same dive as the Russian team. There go the horns! Another 10 –- in fact, two, one for Chen and one for synchro! 93.84 for that dive.

China lead Russia by nearly nine points; Britain a further 13 behind.

9:14 pm – Cao and Chen into the lead

A back dive for Bondar and Minibaev in this second round. Eights and nines from the judges for execution; nines and 9.5s for synchro. That's a solid score and could keep them on top.

Back 1.5 somersaults 0.5 twist tuck for Daley and Lee. Cheers from the British supporters in the crowd but that will keep them behind the Russians.

Here come Cao and Chen, with an inward dive. There go those klaxons again from the Chinese. Nines and 9.5s and they're into the lead.

9:01 pm – Bondar and Minibaev lead after one round

Remember, six rounds to dive; three execution judges per diver and five synchro judges per team with the best and worst scores discarded.

It's the Russians, Aleksandr Bondar and Viktor Minibaev who lead after one round. The Chinese pair are second and we have a tie for third.

Still early, though.

8:50 pm – 13-year-old in final

Ukraine have 13-year-old Oleksii Sereda, born 25 December 2005, in their pair alongside 17-year-old Oleh Serbin.

A bit of a throwback to when Britain's Daley was competing at the top level aged 14!

Tom Daley at age 14

British diver Tom Daley was causing a media frenzy just before his Olympic ...

8:20 pm – Platform synchro medals to be decided

One more final tonight, which gets underway in about 25 minutes. Chen Aisen and Cao Yuan of China are the favourites in the men's 10m platform synchro final, but Great Britain's Tom Daley and Matty Lee will hope to spring a surprise.

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8:00 pm – Not your average event spread!

Down in the media dungeon (it's actually very nice down there), the Gwangju 2019 organising committee have just put on a delightful Korean buffet for dinner, including delicacies such as squid, roast duck and spicy fried chicken.

A special Korean buffet put on for the media by the Gwangju 2019 organising committee

7:43 pm – Ukraine win first-ever Highlight Routine world gold

It's gold for Ukraine! The first team to win this event, on its World Championships debut.

Italy squeezed past Spain into the silver medal spot, while the Spaniards clinch bronze.

7:32 pm – Ukraine go into the lead!

Wow, that's huge from Ukraine! 94.5 sees them into first.

7:20 pm – Like artistic swimming? Why not watch our Olympic Channel originals?

7:16 pm – Thunderstruck

Well, I certainly am by this Spanish routine, set to AC/DC. That was sensational.

Some incredibly athletic flips and jumps – almost reminiscent of artistic gymnastics or figure skating at times.

91.13, wow! That might be good for a medal. Five teams left.

7:03 pm – Can-can

You can definitely see why they called this the 'highlight routine' event – it's all-action!

France get us started with a routine based on the can-can (of course), set to Jacques Offenbach's Orphée aux Enfers and Rossini's William Tell Overture.

The crowd love it! A massive cheer.

6:55 pm – Here's what to look out for

We're nearly ready for the Highlight Routine final.

Russia, who have won all three artistic swimming events so far, are not taking part. Neither are Japan or China, two other big artistic swimming countries.

The routines will be shorter than that in the other events, and there are a minimum of four acrobatic movements required in each routine.

However, teams are allowed to plan their choreography, with no required sets of elements.

Execution and difficulty scores will be worth 30 per cent each, with artistic scoring worth 40 per cent.

6:10 pm – Back shortly

We'll be back in the Yeomju Gymnasium shortly for our second artistic swimming final of the day.

Eight teams will compete in the Highlight Routine final, in the event's World Championships debut.

5:46 pm – Japan confirm bronze in artistic swimming

Japan's Atsushi Abe and Yumi Adachi move into the bronze medal position with 88.5113 in the Mixed Duet Technical final.

There is just one team left, the Spanish duo of Pau Ribes and Emma Garcia. It's 84.40, so that means we have our medallists: Russia win gold, Italy silver, and Japan bronze.

5:37 pm – "It's going to be hard to sleep"

We've been speaking to Jennifer Abel after she won silver alongside Melissia Citrini-Beaulieu in the women's 3m springboard synchro.

"It's going to be hard for Melissa and I to sleep tonight," a happy Abel told us.

Referring to a last-dive error from the 10m platform synchro pair of Meaghan Benfeito and Caeli McKay yesterday, Abel added: "Especially after that bad day, it was a rough one. Melissa and I are nervous and we have a lot of energy.

"It's going to be hard to sleep but we have to be respectful because we're not the only ones, and tomorrow, Meaghan will be competing.

"We will celebrate when we are done here in Gwangju.

"Today I had a lot of challenges, because yes, I had the opportunity to have my fifth medal in five world consecutive indoor women’s 3m springboard and also qualify the country [for the Olympics].

"That was my main goal, but also become the most decorated Canadian athlete at the world championship. So it was a very stressful day for me, but I’m really happy that everything went well and I can bring this beautiful silver medal back home."

Jennifer Abel speaks to the media with her World Championships silver medal

5:27 pm – Russia and Italy look set for medals

It was Russia's Mayya Gurbanberdieva and Aleksandr Maltsev who topped the standings in the prelims, followed by Italy and Japan. They'll be the ones to watch in this final.

Maltsev is a big proponent in Russia of adding men's and mixed artistic swimming to more international events.

It's a good performance, 92.0749.

The Italians, Giorgio Minisini and Manila Flamini, follow them. It's a lovely routine, and one that scores them 90.8511, which will put them into second.

5:00 pm – Back in the pool

We're about to get started in the Mixed Duet Technical artistic swimming final. There are nine pairs in this final, and each duo will have to perform five required sets of elements in their routines.

4:38 pm – Six-from-six for China

The Chinese supporters in the crowd appear to have found hooters and klaxons. There's an almighty noise every time their divers hit the water.

They're making themselves heard, for sure, and for good reason! It's six golds from six diving events for China as Shi and Wang nail their final dive.

Canada clinch silver, bronze to Mexico – and Olympic spots secured for all three countries.

4:23 pm – Canadians well-set for medal

Canada's Abel and Citrini-Beaulieu are still well-placed a medal after four rounds.

The Chinese, Shi and Wang, are well out of sight heading into the final dives, nearly 24 points clear.

But the Canadians have a 13.5 point lead over the Mexicans.

We caught up with Abel and Citrini-Beaulieu not long ago – watch it below.

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4:06 pm – Smile!

They play a game here in between rounds where whoever in the crowd appears on the big screen has to dance. If they don't, those around them voice their disapproval!

China lead after Round 3, 13 points ahead of still second-placed Canada and now Paola Sanchez and Melany Torres of Mexico, who have moved into the bronze-medal position.

The crowd has to dance when they appear on the big screen in the Nambu University Aquatics Centre, in between rounds of diving.

3.55 pm – "8.5, 9.0, 9.0, 8.5"

After two rounds it's all China, with Shi Tingmao and Wang Han in the gold medal position as it stands.

Consistent Canadians Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu are in second, while Russia's Kristina Ilinykh and Mariia Poliakova are in third.

3:32 pm – Welcome back to Nambu International Aquatics Centre!

We're up and running in the final of the women's 3m synchro. Five rounds of diving await us.

A reminder that the top three teams won't only win medals, but also guarantee a quota spot for their countries at Tokyo 2020.

2:46 pm – More diving medals coming up shortly

The next medal event is the Women's 3m Springboard Synchro diving, which begins at 3.30 pm.

2:16 pm – China wrap up the prelims

Congratulations to preliminary round winners Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen, who took qualified for tonight's final in top spot.

Tom Daley, who finished second with Matthew Lee, said to us after:

"Overall we're really happy with that. There's lots of things we could have improved on but we just needed a consistent prelim, and that's what we did. We're looking forward to the final."

2:00 pm – Daley and Lee up to second

The Brits have finally found their best form and are up to second, but China below are still setting the pace in first.

One round to go!

China lead the Men's 10m Platform Synchro diving preliminary round

1:35 pm – Olympic champs still on top at the midway point

After Round 3 of 6, China's Cao and Chen have distanced themselves from the chasing pack to the tune of 13 points.

Canada's Vincent Riendeau and Nathan Zsombor-Murray and Ukrain's Oleh Serbin and Oleksii Sereda are second and third respectively.

Team GB's Tom Daley and Matthew Lee have made their way up to fourth.

1:15 pm – China lead the way

As reliable as clockwork, Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen take the lead after round 1 in the men's 10m Platform Synchro.

Five rounds to go.

Round 1 leaderboard of the Men's 10m Synchro Platform diving competition

12:48 pm – Yukiko Inui qualifies for artistic swimming final

Over in artistic swimming, Japanese Olympic bronze medallist Yukiko Inui leads the field in the Solo Free preliminary round, securing her place in Wednesday evening's final.

Marta Fiedina of Ukraine and Canada's Jacqueline Simoneau are second and third respectively as it stands.

12:30 pm – Daley up in 30 minutes...

British diver and social media star Tom Daley will shortly be making his Gwangju 2019 debut, competing in the men's 10m Platform Synchro preliminary round.

The 25-year-old has returned to his best form this season, after discovering meditation and becoming a father.

Read all about his new lease of life here.

12:10 pm – Music and excitement at water polo

For those following our musical analysis at the venues, there was an absolute treat at the water polo.

At the start of every period of play, when a player from each side sprints to try and grab the ball in the middle of the pitch, heavy metal music blasts out over the speakers for the mini race and the crowd go wild! Love that!

The crowd roars as players sprint for the ball at the restart

11:26 am – Shi Tingmao and Wang Han top of class again

Shi Tingmao came into Gwangju 2019 as one of China's brightest lights in diving, and she is delivering with aplomb.

The double Olympic gold medallist teamed up with two-time world champion Wang Han to win the women's 3m Springboard Synchro preliminary round.

Canadian duo Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu, who we recently recorded a podcast with, are second.

Quick turnaround for the athletes though, as the top-12 finishers qualify for the final at 3:30 pm this afternoon.

10:40 am – What an opening match for Montenegro!

The Montenegro men's water polo team have drawn 10–10 in a thrilling game against Olympic champions Serbia.

9:52 am – The atmosphere is building in Gwangju...

It's a foggy, humid day outside, but there has been a real change of atmosphere inside the venues as crowds start to grow and make themselves heard.

Korea unfortunately got taught a harsh 22–1 lesson in men's water polo by Greece, but the host nation's fans put on an exemplary display of sportsmanship, cheering for Greece's goals with almost as much enthusiasm as their own team's plays.

A great crowd cheers on Korea and Greece at the water polo arena 

9:12 am – A diving icon in action

Today's men's diving 10m Platform Synchro event will see Tom Daley compete for the first time at Gwangju 2019.

The British Olympic medallist has had a disrupted Olympic cycle, which almost saw him quit at one point. But after the birth of his son, he returned to the sport a new man, and even won a leg of the FINA Diving World Series in 2019.

He now wants to 'make his son proud' in Gwangju and Tokyo 2020, and you can learn about the techniques he has used to return to the top of diving here.

8:30 am – Spotted in the media breakfast hall!

Koreans are renowned for their creativity, and this is certainly a new one for me!

Breakfast cereal Fruit Loops, fried chicken cordon bleu. Well, both work nicely on their own... so why not, right?

It's worth mentioning here that every single type of food you can think of is on offer in the breakfast hall. From Halal options to fresh fruit, to the "Typical Western" bacon and eggs stand, the media are given the best start to a busy day.

The place is spotless, the food I've eaten is superb and is served with a huge Korean smile. Will report back when I've tried the below...

Fruit loops and chicken, one of the slightly less conventional breakfast options on offer

8:10 am – Day 4 highlights

08:30 - 13:35 Water Polo: Men's preliminary round
10:00 - 12:00 Diving: Women's 3m Springboard Synchro preliminary round
11:00 - 14:30 Artistic swimming: Solo Free preliminary round
13:00 - 14:15 Diving: Men's 10m Platform Synchro preliminary round
14:15 - 16:00 Beach Water Polo: Men's matches
15:30 - 16:45 Diving:Women's 3m Springboard Synchro final
16:30 - 21:45 Water Polo: Men's preliminary round
17:00 - 16:30 Artistic swimming: Mixed Duet Technical final
19:00 - 20:00 Artistic swimming: Highlight routine final
20:45 - 22:15 Diving: Men's 10m Platform Synchro final

8:00 am – Good morning!

Is it really Day 4 of the 2019 FINA World Championships already?

Welcome back to the Olympic Channel live blog. If you have a case of the Monday blues then this is the best place to be, as another four world champions will be decided today in diving and artistic swimming.

As always, we’ll be bringing you behind the scenes footage in Gwangju and keeping you up to speed on all the latest news.