U.S. diver Wilkinson fourth in 10-meter final

Updated: March 21, 2007, 10:33 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- With China on the boards, everyone else was diving for bronze.

Laura Wilkinson
AP Photo/Itsuo InouyeLaura Wilkinson scrapped her way into the 10-meter final but could not muster a medal.

Luo Yutong and He Chong finished 1-2 in men's 1-meter springboard and Wang Xin and Chen Ruolin did the same in women's platform Wednesday night, keeping the Chinese perfect through four events at the world championships.

The Chinese claimed titles in the men's 3-meter and women's 10-meter synchronized events Monday, putting them on track for a sweep at Albert Park.

"They put a lot of hard work into this sport and they're very talented as well," American Chris Colwill said, "especially with the higher degree of difficulty they do with their dives. It makes it harder to catch up."

American Laura Wilkinson, the defending champion making a comeback after wrist surgery last year, finished fourth.

"Of course, the goal is always to get a medal. But I only missed one dive. I went after everything," she said. "I'm very satisfied, especially with the rough start I had in the prelims."

Wilkinson barely advanced after botching three consecutive dives in preliminaries.

She did harder dives than both of the Chinese, including a back 3½ somersault valued at 3.6 out of 4.0. But her legs hit the water upon entry, earning scores of 3.0 to 5.0.

"I think I had a good start," she said. "I came out a little too soon, so it was short. But we'll get it next time."

Wilkinson's main goal is to dive at one more Olympics before she retires, and the 29-year-old relishes the thought of competing on China's home turf.

"I love it when the odds are stacked against me. I see what they're doing and I know how good they are," she said. "I feel like they're at the top of their game. And I feel like I'm not yet. I definitely feel like I can do a lot better and really run with them."

But a quarter of the way through the 16-day meet, the U.S. team still has only one medal -- a bronze in synchronized swimming.

"We definitely look at the medal count, but I think our performance as a whole is very strong," Wilkinson said. "We've had three fourth places and a fifth place [in diving]. That's really pretty good for right now."

Chen received a slew of perfect marks during the five-round final. She scored six 10.0s and a 9.5 for her fourth dive, a back 3½ somersault, that had Chinese fans waving their nation's flag and cheering wildly.

Chen led through the first two rounds before Wang, whose lone 10.0 came on her first dive, took over the rest of the way.

Wang won the gold with 432.85 points. Chen took the silver in 410.30.

Christin Steuer of Germany earned the bronze in 386.85.

In the men's 1-meter, Luo came from behind to beat He by 7.55 points and earn his first major international gold medal. His teammate finished with 477.40 points.

"I felt very good today," Luo said. "I performed the way I performed in training. It was not my best, but I got a lot more experience."

Christopher Sacchin of Italy took the bronze.

Colwill finished fourth. He was third after his opening dive, dropped to fifth, then never made a serious run at the Chinese.

"There are a few things I could have done a lot better, particularly on that last dive," he said. "I had some mistiming on the board that cost a lot of points for me. I just wish I could have done a little bit better."

Colwill had a low degree of difficulty, with none of his dives harder than 3.2. That was on the low end for the Chinese, especially He, whose forward 2½ somersault with two twists was worth 3.6.

Luo took over the lead from He on his fourth dive, a forward 2½ somersault with one twist that earned marks ranging from 8.0 to 9.5.

He is a springboard specialist, but prefers the 3-meter board, where he's ranked No. 1 in the world. He won a bronze on it in 2005 at Montreal, and will go for gold in the event beginning Thursday.

"My teammate did very well. For myself, I did not do my best," He said. "I did not prepare very well. I did not have good training before I came here. That's why I did not do my best."

In the temporary pool at Rod Laver Arena, the Russians won their fourth straight synchronized swimming gold in the team technical event involving eight swimmers.

Dressed in bright yellow, blue and orange suits, the Russians scored 99.000 points to finish well ahead of the silver medalists, Japan, with 97.833. Spain took the bronze with 97.167. The United States was fifth.

Russia won the free combination on Sunday, Natalia Ischenko the solo technical on Monday and Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova the duet technical on Tuesday.

Russian Vladimir Dyatchin won the men's 10-kilometer open water race at St. Kilda Beach in a photo finish Wednesday, holding off defending champion Thomas Lurz of Germany. Both swimmers recorded times of 1 hour, 55 minutes, 32.4 seconds.

Another Russian, Evgeny Drattsev, took the bronze. Americans Scott Kaufman and Mark Warkentin vied for the early lead before dropping out of medal contention.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. women's water polo team improved to 2-0 with a 13-5 rout of Kazakhstan. Brenda Villa scored three goals for the Americans, who were second at the last world championships.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE