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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | DIVING

Fu Times Two Is Gold for Chinese

Diving: She is first woman in 36 years to win both platform and springboard.

August 01, 1996|LISA DILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ATLANTA — There's a new term in diving after Fu Mingxia's brilliant four days of work here at the Olympics.

Fu's Gold.

The 17-year-old from Beijing won the three-meter springboard on Wednesday night at Georgia Tech Aquatic Center by a 35.49-point margin, becoming the first woman to win both the springboard and 10-meter platform in the same Olympics since Ingrid Kramer of the former East Germany did it in 1960.

Finishing second was Russia's Irina Lashko, the mother of a 2-year-old girl, and Annie Pelletier of Canada won the bronze. Pelletier secured the bronze by hitting her final dive--a back 1 1/2 somersault with 2 1/2 twists with a 2.8 degree of difficulty, receiving 63 points.

The 22-year-old from Montreal won a medal by 1.65 points, edging American Melisa Moses, who moved up from sixth place after the morning semifinals and finished fourth. Jenny Keim of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., reached the finals and took ninth.

Moses' fifth and final dive was a reverse 2 1/2 somersault from a tuck position with a 2.8 degree of difficulty. She picked up 62.16 points on the dive, and had the feeling it might not be enough.

"Going into my last dive, I knew I needed to hit it," said the 24-year-old from Jacksonville, Fla. "As soon as I hit the water, I knew that I went a little over."

Moses had mixed feelings about the close brush with bronze. A pulled groin limited her training for the last two weeks before the Olympics, and she was wondering whether the layoff may have cost her Wednesday.

"I'm kind of feeling a lot of different emotions right now," Moses said. "I've often said I'd rather finish 12th than fourth, here I am finishing fourth. It's a real frustrating position to be in because it was so close."

Moses and Keim received a couple of questionable low scores from the New Zealand judge, Robin Hood. But Moses maintained the low score didn't bother her.

This was the second consecutive Olympics that American women have failed to win a medal in the springboard competition. Their last medal in the event was Kelly McCormick's bronze in 1988.

It was the first diving medal for Canada since 1984, and the charismatic Pelletier caught the country by surprise. She was 12th at the world championships on the three-meter springboard and only third at Dive Canada earlier this year. Heading into the finals, Pelletier was in fifth place and afterward she was beaming as she held her medal.

"Do you think it looks like gold?" she asked reporters. "In my heart, it's worth gold."

In contrast to Pelletier's open joy, Fu was quietly pleased, saying she felt relieved. She has seemingly been around international diving forever but is still 17. At Barcelona, Fu won the 10-meter platform at 13 and is now an inch taller at 5-2 and 10 pounds heavier at 126 pounds.

"In 1992 I was a little girl, and I grew a lot in four years," Fu said. "I'm taller and heavier, but I can work in other strategies. The key to my success is my technical skills. I was quite consistent and performed with great consistency. I was not uptight or intense. I didn't say, 'I have to win the gold.' "

Said Moses: "Obviously, she's an incredible diver. She's been diving for a very long time, and they train 10-12 hours a day. They're almost like machines. We say that often, but as you saw last night with Tan [Shuping], they're not machines. They're human.

"She did an amazing job tonight."

Fu did not say whether she would definitely return for the 2000 Olympics. In Sydney, she could try for her fourth and fifth gold medals.

U.S. diving coach Ron O'Brien definitely won't be working with athletes on the deck in Sydney. This was his last diving meet as a coach after 34 years and eight Olympics. The legendary coach plans to work as a technical director with U.S. Diving.

Watching his final diver, Keim, was not a sad night for the low-key O'Brien.

"It's happy occasion for me," he said. "A lot of people retire and come back, but that's not my intention."

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