London: London`s striking new Olympic Aquatics Centre hosted its first day of competitive action on Monday with China`s dominant divers predictably striking gold in a World Cup event chosen to test the facility.
World champions Qin Kai and Luo Yutong won the men`s synchronised 3-metres springboard ahead of Russia`s Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Malaysia`s Brian Nickson Lomas and Huang Qiang took the bronze.
If the result was to be expected, with China winning all the diving golds at last year`s world championships in Shanghai, so too was the praise for the wave-like venue with its undulating roof stretching like the grey belly of a whale across the brilliant blue pools.
"It`s a beautiful venue," Australia`s men`s 10m platform Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham told Reuters.
"We had a few technical difficulties but they fixed them all straight away, like that. Which has been quite amazing actually so the organising committee are doing a fantastic job. I`m going to enjoy diving here in July.”
Asked how it compared to other Olympic pools, he grinned. "Look, I have a soft spot for the Water Cube (in Beijing). I am always going to."
Compatriot Loudy Wiggins, making her comeback at the age of 32 in the women`s 10m platform, said she was stunned by the venue that cost around 270 million pounds ($428.48 million) to build.
"I walked in and actually went `Wow, this is incredible," said the three-times Olympian. "It`s quite spectacular, even going as far as saying it`s breathtaking - especially with a full capacity crowd.”
"Having said that, it is quite comfortable to dive in which is always important. You`ve got all the right references, you can see the water properly, the roof`s not a distraction. They pretty much thought of everything."
LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton welcomed the crowd, who applauded each dive with enthusiasm, to what he said was a truly extraordinary building in the heart of the Olympic Park in east London. "It is going to be a terrific venue, not just for the Games here in the summer of 2012 and this event but also in the longer term," he said.