Hildebrand-Cardinell pace women's side

Updated: June 10, 2004, 12:06 AM ET
Associated Press

ST. PETERS, Mo. -- The Dumais brothers were right in sync.

Troy and Justin Dumais earned a joint trip to Athens, dominating 3-meter synchronized diving at the U.S. Olympic trials Wednesday night.

For Troy, this will be his second Olympics. His older brother will be going for the first time. Both made it clear the trials were merely a means of accomplishing their main goal -- an Olympic medal.

"Two months from now," Troy said. "That's what matters."

The brothers built a commanding lead after their five preliminary dives in the afternoon, leaving little doubt about the outcome. But they didn't let up in the evening, earning just the second perfect 10 of the trials with a forward pike 3½ somersault.

In fact, the Ventura, Calif., siblings didn't even need to do their final dive to earn a trip to the Olympics. They already had enough points, finishing with 684.33 at the St. Peters Rec-Plex in suburban St. Louis.

They were cheered on by about 20 family members, decked out in the blue shirts featuring a logo of the Gateway Arch and the words "Road to Athens."

"I love hearing the cheers of the crowd," Justin said. "I live for that."

On the women's side, Sara Hildebrand and Cassandra Cardinell led favorites Laura Wilkinson and Kimiko Soldati after the prelims of platform synchro. The final is Thursday night.

"Sara and Cassandra stepped up and did a great job," said Wilkinson, who won a surprising gold medal in the individual 10 meters at the Sydney Olympics. "We have some work to do, but we're up to the challenge."

The Dumais brothers held such a big advantage after the prelims that the No. 2 team, Phillip Jones and Jevon Tarantino, initially announced they were dropping out to concentrate on their individual events. They wound up staying in for the final, winding up a distant second with 615.54 points.

Jones, a late entry to the synchro event, was second to Troy Dumais in the springboard prelims. The final in that event is Friday.

Troy, 24, competed in two events at Sydney, finishing sixth in the springboard and fourth in the 3-meter synchronized with partner David Pichler. By virtue of his performance in synchro, Dumais almost certainly will duplicate that schedule in Athens.

Justin, a year older than his brother, made his first Olympic team -- and just in time. He will retire from diving after the Olympics to pursue another passion: flying jets. He plans to enter the Air Force or National Guard reserves.

Justin had to overcome a debilitating thyroid condition that struck in December, causing him to lose 15 pounds and sapping the energy to even get out of bed.

The condition was diagnosed as Graves disease, a serious illness that also struck Olympic track star Gail Devers. But a change in diet cured the symptoms quicker than expected, so doctors are still trying to determine exactly what went wrong with Dumais.

None of it matters now. He's headed to the Olympics with his little brother.

Troy conceded that being paired with a sibling has its advantages -- and disadvantages.

"We've had the same coaches. We've seen each other, basically, every day. We know what works and what doesn't," he said. "On the other hand, there's the blame. If we miss one, there's all this talk about this and that. It's a constant argument."

Since diving is basically an individual sport, the brothers weren't really close until their recent surge in synchro. Last month, they beat some of the best teams in the world at a Grand Prix meet in Texas.

"We had to develop a much closer relationship," Justin said. "Before, we were just competitors with the same last name."

In 2000, the first year for synchro as an Olympic sport, the U.S. teams were formed simply by taking the top two individual finishers at the trials.

This time, USA Diving decided to put more emphasis on the synchro events. The teams will be selected first, which means that some second-place finishers in the individual events could be shut out of the Olympics.

Wilkinson will be one of the favorites for another medal in Athens, and she hopes to compete in the synchro as well. She and Soldati still have some work to do after botching a couple of dives in the prelims.

Hildebrand, an Olympian four years ago when known by her maiden name of Reiling, teamed with Cardinell to earn 326.97 points. Wilkinson and Soldati were next with 304.02.

The second-place team didn't seem too concerned.

"We missed two dives pretty bad," Soldati said. "To be only 20 points down, we're fine. We can make that up. In this sport, anything can happen."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press