Wu Minxia is closing in on a diving milestone. She hopes to take another step Saturday. Wu heads into the semifinals of women's Olympic 3-meter springboard after a dominating performance in the preliminaries, capped off by a nearly perfect dive in the final round.
Her teammate, He Zi, was second in Friday's leadoff to individual diving.
The Chinese swept the four synchronized events including a victory by Wu and He on the springboard and are looking to become the first team to take all eight golds since the program was expanded at Sydney in 2000. They won seven of eight at Beijing.
Wu is chasing her own bit of history. Her third straight synchro gold left her one away from equaling the most career diving medals, the six won by Guo Jingjing. Wu also has a couple of individual medals, a 3-meter silver in 2004, followed by a bronze in the same event four years ago.
Now, she'd like to round out her collection with a gold. The top 12 advance from the semis, with the final Sunday night.
"It was my usual performance," the 26-year-old Wu said. "I have done well."
Wu really nailed her last dive, a back 2.5 somersault in the pike position. The crowd gasped when she sliced through the water, barely causing a ripple. She received scores of 9.0 and 9.5, leaving her with a five-round total of 387.95 points.
He took the second spot in 363.85, while Italy's Tania Cagnotto was next in 349.80.
Both Americans also advanced to the 18-woman semifinal. Two-time Olympian Christina Loukas was seventh, while rookie Cassidy Krug took the 10th position.
"I was pretty solid throughout the contest," said Loukas, who finished ninth on springboard at the Beijing Games. "There are some things to improve on, but it was a good start to the meet."
Now that Loukas has an Olympics under her belt, she's trying to treat this like any other meet.
"Same divers," she said. "I've competed in this pool before (at the 2012 World Cup), so I just look at it the same way."
Nothing seems to faze Wu, even after her teammate pulled slightly ahead in the third round. Wu finished with her two highest-scoring dives of the day, leaving little doubt she's the one to beat on springboard at these games.
"It's too early to see the result," Wu said. "All I want to do is my usual performance."
The Americans are hoping to add some individual podiums to the three medals they won in synchro, breaking a 12-year drought.
"It's amazing being part of this team," Loukas said. "We really feed off each other and we hope to continue that. Just coming into meet, I knew we had a strong team, and I knew that we were going to medal."
The home crowd also left happy.
Britain's Rebecca Gallantree and Hannah Starling both stayed alive, advancing to the semis in 16th and 17th respectively.