ATHENS, Greece, August 27. WITH a near flawless performance Guo Jingjing from China won the gold medal in Thursday night's Women's 3m Springboard competition, reports US Diving and event orgainizers in Athens.
Posting the highest score among all competitors in three of the five dives in the final round, Guo finished first with 633.15 points ahead of Minxia WU, also from China (612.00 points) and Yulia Pakhalina from Russia (610.62 points).
After winning the gold medal in the Synchronised 3m Springboard competition it was Guo's second gold medal of these Olympic Games and China's third gold medal in four Women's Diving events. Overall, the win marked China's fifth gold medal in Diving.
Irina Lashko from Australia, who was leading going to the final, finished only seventh after posting a low score of only fours and fives in her last dive.
Rachelle Kunkel of the USA also performed well. She was the 12th and final qualifier for the finals and had the 11th best total on the semi-final dives which pass on to the final scoring. She was able to move up two more places to finishe 9th at 546.72.
“I am super happy with the list (of dives) I put together,” Kunkel said. “I felt like I held all my nerves inside and I had a good time. I came out tonight wanting no regrets and I feel like I did that.”
Kunkel had a rough preliminary round finishing 12th with 294.75 points. She performed the same dives Thursday night during the final round scoring over 42 points higher at 336.96. The biggest improvement came in round three where she scored 72.00 points on her reverse 2 1⁄2 compared to her preliminary score of 41.40.
Kunkel recognized the quality of her competition. “The girls I was diving with in the finals are the best in the world and it is such an honor to be up there with them and to be competing,” Kunkel said.
Kunkel has been training for three years with coach Honping Li while holding down a full time job at California Hospital in downtown Los Angeles. While working 12-hour shifts three times a week as a nurse in labor and delivery, she was only able to practice twice a week so her coach was very happy with her performance in Athens.
“I am very, very pleased with her performance,” Li said. “She came back strong and did a great job. Overall she performed with great consistency and that is what we are looking for and that is what she did today. Overall she is improving and as her coach that is great to see. Coming into the Olympics our goal was to make the finals and be in the top six. We were unable to finish in the top six but moving up from 11th was very good.”
The U.S. team has two more chances at standing on the medal stand with Caesar Garcia (Baton Rouge, La.) and Kyle Prandi (Strongsville, Ohio) competing in the men’s platform.
Preliminary round action begins Friday at 13:30 with the semifinals at 12:00 on Saturday. Finals will be Saturday night at 21:00.
Olympic Aquatic Centre – THU 26 AUG 2004 – Start Time: 21:01
Rank Name NOC Semi-final Points Final Points Total Points Points Behind
1 GUO Jingjing
243.06 390.09 633.15
2 WU Minxia
240.39 371.61 612.00 21.15
3 PAKHALINA Yulia
237.42 373.20 610.62 22.53
4 ILYINA Vera
225.90 363.21 589.11 44.04
5 HARTLEY Blythe
229.62 343.38 573.00 60.15
6 TOURKY Loudy
227.79 339.15 566.94 66.21
7 LASHKO Irina
246.51 305.46 551.97 81.18
8 CAGNOTTO Tania
231.15 319.23 550.38 82.77
9 KUNKEL Rachelle
209.76 336.96 546.72 86.43
10 HEYMANS Emilie
225.96 304.77 530.73 102.42
11 KOTZIAN Ditte
221.10 288.42 509.52 123.63
12 ESPINOSA Paola
205.32 284.88 490.20 142.95