x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

China one step from sweep

China makes it nine for nine diving titles at the Shanghai World Aquatic Championships, and Michael Phelps says he is excited about his final year of competitive swimming.

SHANGHAI // China moved to within just one victory of a diving clean sweep on Saturday, as Michael Phelps, the US great, said he was determined to go out with a bang in his final year of swimming.

Wu Minxia claimed the three-metre springboard title ahead of He Zi to give the hosts a stunning nine out of nine gold medals at the Crescent Lagoon pool.

Wu's first individual world title means the pressure will fall on Qiu Bo to complete the first ever 10-medal haul in Sunday's men's 10m final. But Qiu looked in sublime form as he led the semi-finals by nearly 80 points and will be the hot favourite to put the final seal on China's total dominance.

Phelps, who has 14 Olympic titles, said it would be "really weird to hang up the suit" but added he was hoping to write a final chapter starting on Sunday.

"I am excited for the next year, and I'm excited to move on and try some other things, but also at the same point, I think it's going to be really weird to hang up the suit," he said.

"Just thinking about all the memories that you've gone through and experiences that we've had and pools we've been to, countries we've been to - I think that was kind of hard to think about."

Phelps acknowledged he had been "lazy" in recent years, leading to a series of shock losses. But he said training was going well despite condensing a year's work into the past nine months.

"I don't think I'm in the same ballpark as I was last year," the 26 year old said.

Elsewhere, soaring temperatures prompted angry complaints and a swathe of withdrawals from the 25km marathon swim, which is in the safety spotlight following the death of America's Fran Crippen during a 10km open water race in Fujairah last October. More than 20 swimmers did not finish the race and some were carried away on stretchers as water temperatures hit 32°C, above the limit considered safe by America's open-water commission.

"I just want to have a rest, waiting for some water and ice," said Bulgaria's Petar Stoychev, who won the men's race in 5hrs 10min 39.8secs.

In synchronised swimming, Russia made it seven out of seven titles as they won the team free routine.