London 2012

Zakharov leaves it late

Emotional night for Mears as he finishes 11th

Last Updated: 07/08/12 8:43pm

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Ilya Zakharov: ended the Chinese dominance

Ilya Zakharov: ended the Chinese dominance

Ilya Zakharov of Russia scored 104.50 points on his last dive to win the three-metre springboard final, spoiling China's bid to sweep all eight diving events.

Zakharov totaled 555.90 points in the six-round final. Qin Kai of China took the lead into the last round, but he settled for silver at 541.75.

He Chong, the defending champion and Qin's teammate, earned the bronze at 524.15.

Britain's Chris Mears completed one of the most heart-warming stories of the London Games as his journey from near-death to Olympic finalist was realised.

The 19-year-old from Reading was given just a five per cent chance of survival after he required life-saving surgery during a youth diving competition in Australia in January 2009.

Three years on, and again against all the odds, Mears qualified for the three-metre springboard final.

He did so by smashing his lifetime best to score 461.00 in this morning's semi-final and leave his watching parents, Katy and Paul, in tears.

While he failed to reproduce the performance, finishing 11th with a score of 439.75, it hardly mattered for a man who was ranked 48th in the world this year before the Games.

Mears did fittingly end his competition on a high, grabbing one of only two scores over 100 points for a single dive in the final, when he won nines for his hardest front four-and-a-half somersaults.

While the contest may be most remembered for Zakharov ending China's bid for a clean sweep of the gold medals in the diving pool the emotion of a 17,500 home support for Mears was most palpable inside the Aquatics Centre as he was roared on before and after each dive.

Life-saving surgery

Mears almost lost his life after he required life-saving surgery to remove a ruptured spleen sustained while diving at the Youth Olympic Festival in Australia.

He lost five pints of blood and following the surgery had further complications, suffering a seven-hour seizure before falling into a coma for three days.

His family made the frantic journey from around the globe to be at his bedside where, after a month in a Sydney hospital, he slowly made his recovery and begin a remarkable journey that reached its climax.

The Mears family had to be given tickets from British Swimming for the final, such was the surprise of their son's progress.

He also claimed fifth alongside Nick Robinson-Baker in the springboard synchro last week.

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