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Tian: 'Absolutely confident' he'll win

8/28/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Alexandre Despatie of Canada, the current
world champion, and defending Olympic champion Tian Liang of China
advanced Saturday to the 10-meter platform final, the last diving
event of the Athens Games.

Despatie, silver medalist in the 3-meter springboard, took the
highest score into the evening final with 209.46 points. Tian was
third at 209.04, just behind Australian Mathew Helm (209.34).

"I am absolutely confident that I am going to win tonight,''
Tian said.

Hu Jia was fourth at 207.30, putting China in position to win
its record sixth diving gold medal in Athens.

"The top four are quite advanced compared to the rest of the
field,'' said Despatie, who finished fourth on platform at the
Sydney Games as a 15-year-old. "We always seem to have the same
guys in the finals every time.''

Hu earned platform silver behind Tian four years ago. Tian
already won a gold medal in Athens on synchronized platform with
partner Yang Jinghui.

Helm teamed with Robert Newbery to win the bronze on
synchronized platform in Athens. Newbery was in sixth place among
12 qualifiers.

"I did not really expect to do so well,'' said Helm, who was
eighth on platform in Sydney. "I'm just really focused on myself
and my own dives. That's all I can control, and it's been working
out really well for me so far.''

The judges handed out a bevy of 10.0s. Each of the top four
divers got at least one perfect mark during the semifinals.

"Tens are always good,'' Despatie said, "but it's just the
semifinals. It doesn't mean much.''

None of them scored lower than 8.5.

"If you want to be in the game with these guys, your scores in
the semifinals have got to be 9, 9.5, 10,'' Despatie said.
"Otherwise you're out.''

Americans Caesar Garcia and Kyle Prandi failed to get out of the
preliminaries, ensuring the United States' first diving medals
shutout in 92 years.