TUCSON, Arizona, September 3. TEAM USA won a pair of medals Thursday at the FINA World Junior Diving Championships to lift its two-day total to four, doubling its medal count from the 2008 meet with four days of competition still to come.
Kristian Ipsen (Clayton, Calif.) and Michael Hixon (Amherst, Mass.) won the silver in the boys synchronized 3-meter contest, and Samantha Bromberg (Bexley, Ohio) picked up the bronze in the girls group B platform final. Divers from China won gold in all three events contested Thursday.
Bromberg finished with 336.70 points to finish third behind gold medalist Yi Lan, who scored 405.90 points, and silver medalist Brittany Broben of Australia, who finished with 370.75.
Perhaps most impressive about Bromberg's medal was that she had to fight to overcome her nerves just to have a chance to make the finals. She was in 19th place with two rounds to go in the preliminaries, and only the top 12 divers advance to the finals. Bromberg had the second-highest score in the sixth round to jump to 13th and then had the fourth-best score in the last round to jump to 10th place and earn a spot in the finals.
"In the prelims, I was incredibly nervous. I've never experienced anything like this competition before," said Bromberg, who was diving in her first world competition. "I came out in the finals with nothing to lose."
In the finals, she scored 66 points on her first dive, a front 3 ½ that had earned her just 34.50 points in the prelims. She then scored 70.40 points on her inward 3 ½ tuck in the next round to vault her into medal contention.
"I saw I was in third after my inward, but I just tried to think about the things my coach told me," said Bromberg, who closed out the competition with 65.25 points on her front 2 ½ with a twist to secure her medal.
Ipsen and Hixon scored 309.57 points to finish behind China's Li Jincong and He Chao, who finished with 324.24 points for gold. Ukraine's Oleg Kolodiy and Oleksandr Bondar were third at 301.14.
It was the second medal of the championships for Ipsen, who won bronze on 3-meter on Wednesday. Hixon won a bronze on 3-meter at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore a week ago.
"It was fun. I felt good out there. It was a close contest and we stepped it up," Hixon said.
Hixon and Ipsen were in eighth place after the third of five rounds before coming back with the highest scores of any team in the fourth and fifth rounds, earning 75.48 points on their front 2 ½ with two twists in round four and 76.50 points on their inward 2 ½ pike in the fifth round.
"I'm really happy because we stayed consistent. That last dive really solidified our spot, and I'm pleased with our fourth dive because that's been our Achilles heel," Ipsen said.
Two other U.S. divers advanced to the finals Thursday. Gracia Leydon-Mahoney (Newton, Mass.) joined Bromberg in the platform finals and finished fifth with 321.65 points. Cherie Hammond (Windermere, Fla.) advanced to the girls group A 1-meter final and scored 362.90 for 10th place. China's Liu Tian and Wei Ying were first and second with 406.95 and 404.05 points, respectively, and Canada's Pamela Ware won bronze. USA's Kathryn Connolly (San Antonio, Texas) finished 15th at 347.95.
Competition continues Friday with boys group B 1-meter and girls group A 3-meter.
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