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American Wilcock eliminated

8/24/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Troy Dumais missed out on a chance to win
an Olympic diving medal with his brother. Now he's on his own.

Dumais was in fifth place after Monday's 3-meter springboard
preliminaries, trailing leader Alexandre Despatie of Canada.

Dumais and his older brother, Justin, were second going into the
final round of last week's synchronized springboard competition.
China's duo was first, but amazingly scored zero points, leaving
the door open for the siblings. But they failed to take advantage,
missing their tandem dive and winding up sixth.

"I wanted to make sure that didn't happen again,'' said Troy,
who totaled 452.76 points Monday. He finished sixth on springboard
four years ago.

"My goal was rebounding from the synchro,'' Dumais said. "I
wanted to forget about it and move on and I did that.''

Despatie, the first Canadian to win a world title on the
10-meter platform last year, led the way with 517.59 points. Peng
Bo of China was second with 495.45, Russia's Alexander Dobroskok
was third with 489.75, and Japan's Ken Terauchi was fourth with
456.15.

The United States had mixed results in an event that Americans
have won 15 out of 17 Olympics from 1920 to 1992. Mark Lenzi won a
bronze in 1996, but the Americans were then shut out in Sydney.

American Justin Wilcock, competing for the first time since
injuring his back after the U.S. trials in June, failed to advance,
finishing last among 32 competitors. He was 118.53 points out of
31st place.

Wilcock, of Smithfield, Utah, suffered a stress fracture in his
back while lifting weights and wasn't able to practice for a month.
He was in such pain during morning warmups that U.S. coach Ken
Armstrong submitted paperwork to withdraw him.

But a tearful Wilcock told Armstrong he wanted to try.

"A lot of people wouldn't have done it, but he knew this was
his Olympic opportunity,'' Armstrong said. "You never know if
you're going to get back here.''

Dumais is the United States' best hope for a medal in Athens.
The only time the Americans didn't win a diving medal at the
Olympics was 1912, when there were only four events. So far, they
are 0-for-5, with three events to go.

"Troy did a great job. That's right where we want to be,''
Armstrong said. "He's in a great frame of mind.''

Dumais, of Ventura, Calif., is already plotting for the final by
adding a more difficult dive to his repertoire.

"This competition in 3-meter is so deep that anybody who makes
the final has the opportunity to win,'' he said. "China is good,
but a lot of other countries are just as good.''

Dmitri Sautin of Russia, competing in his fourth Olympics at age
30, was sixth. He has won six medals over the years, including
bronzes on springboard in 1992 and 2000.

The other Chinese diver, Wang Feng, was seventh.

The top 18 advanced to Tuesday's semifinals.

Despatie took over first place after his third dive and stayed
there. He impressed the judges with a tuck reverse 3½ somersault
that scored 91.35 points -- his highest total of the competition.

"I was a little nervous with it being the beginning of the
meet. You want to make the cut,'' he said.

Peng is in contention to duplicate countryman Xiong Ni's
gold-medal showings in 2000 and 1996. The 23-year-old was second on
springboard at last year's world championships. He dropped to third
place on his fourth dive, then recovered on his final two dives to
trail Despatie.

Peng earned the highest score of the fifth round on a reverse
tuck 3½ somersault that totaled 94.50 points.

"I did not concentrate too much. Everything came to me
instinctively,'' Peng said. "I did not feel pressure. I am very
familiar with this pool, and I will do even better tomorrow.''

Wilcock struggled throughout the competition, never advancing
out of last place during the six-dive preliminary.

His fifth dive was his worst -- he earned zeros for not doing all
the required elements of the forward pike 2½ somersaults with two
twists. He veered out of control on his twist and hit the water
with his legs crooked, creating a huge splash. An anguished
Armstrong buried his head in his arms.

Wilcock's sixth dive was the most painful. His toes struck the
board on his first rotation, eliciting a gasp from the crowd as
they waited for him to surface. He climbed out and showed no
reaction.

"This was very valuable experience,'' he said. "I know it
can't really be any worse. When I'm on that board in Beijing, I'll
be there with a lot more fire.''