Seen besides their swimming cousins, Australia's divers can be regarded as the poor relations in the family. However, senior diving official Philip Pullar believes that could all change at this year's Sydney Olympics where fruits, forbidden them at past Games, will be reaped. 'I believe Australia can win diving medals at Sydney. I even believe we are capable of winning gold,' said Pullar, president of Diving Australia. He adds with a twinkle in his eye: 'China are the favourites . . . closely followed by Australia.' An indication of whether Pullar's prophesy will materialise will be seen this weekend when Hong Kong host the 6th FINA Diving Grand Prix at the Kowloon Park Swimming Pool. China are huge favourites to sweep the board at this event which features 11 countries, including Hong Kong. Spearheaded by powerful female divers, three-time Olympic medallist Fu Mingxia and up-and-coming star Guo Jingjing, the Chinese are hot contenders for the six gold medals on offer in the men's and women's one-metre springboard, three-metre springboard and platform events. 'They [China] have lifted diving to a new level. You wouldn't be facing reality if you don't recognise that,' said Pullar yesterday as he watched the Chinese squad go through a repetitious training stint. Small wonder, then, that Australia have gone to the fount of all diving knowledge to learn. The Australian Institute of Sports hired two Chinese coaches - Wang Tongxiang and Chen Wen - and set up a comprehensive diving programme in 1994. 'We reinforced our programme in 1994 with an eye on the Sydney Olympics,' said Pullar. Results at the World Cup held in Sydney in January - where a seven-strong diving squad all won medals (although no golds) - has given Australian diving officials much optimism. 'Our team will be announced in June, and it will be very competitive. And with the home crowd behind them, I'm sure we will do well,' Pullar said. 'The swimmers are household names and very successful. In this light, it takes a lot of courage to take up diving. But I believe we will be rewarded when the Sydney Olympics comes around,' adds Pullar. China's top male diver Xiong Ni has withdrawn from the Hong Kong leg of the FINA Diving Grand Prix. Chinese officials said Xiong had been rested following last week's leg in Xian. The Chinese squad for the Sydney Olympic Games will be finalised this month.