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Diving for Olympic silverware

Despite Chinese total domination in the sport, Russian divers still hope for medals at the upcoming London Olympics.

­The last decade in diving saw Chinese athletes go from strength to strength, both in the men's and women's competition.

At their home Olympic Games in Beijing four years ago, they clinched gold in seven categories out of the possible eight.

The rest of the world, led by Russian divers, was left to wonder just how they could break the monopoly.

Last year's Swimming World Championships gave further evidence of the Eastern dominance, with China sweeping aside the opposition, winning gold in every single discipline.

“If we try to be objective, we should admit, that to match China in this sport in the near future is virtually impossible,”
Elena Vaitsekhovskaya, 1976 Olympic diving champions, said. “Our athletes can beat them in this or that discipline, because they are still human and they can also make a mistake. But in general I don't think, anybody can challenge China.”

But sport and Olympic sport in particular, is where the unexpected does happen. And, of course, Russia's diving team won't be just tourists during their trip to London.

Two-time Olympic bronze medalist, Gleb Galperin, along with Viktor Minibaev will compete in the individual platform.

While the country's rising young talents, Iliya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuzntesov, will take part in the springboard events.

In the women's program, Russia will be represented by three athletes. Beijing silver medalist, Anastasiya Pozdnyakova, and Olympics debutant, Nadezhda Bajina, are individual springboard hopes, while in the 10-metre discipline, Yulia Koltunova will be seeking nothing short of gold.

Despite being only 23, Koltunova won silver at the 2004 Olympics and is experienced way beyond her years.

“I think, I can make the top three in London,” she told RT. “But the competition will be excellent, and to achieve a placing I will have to carry out my program flawlessly.”

All in all, Russia will have divers competing in six categories out of the eight on offer. And with such a force to beat as China, one London gold medal would be considered a successful outing.