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Russian Diver Wins Goodwill Gold

July 26, 1998

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ Russia cornered the market in women’s diving gold medals at the Goodwill Games on Saturday night when world champion Yuliya Pakhalina easily won the 3-meter competition.

Pakhalina, who said she was not upset about finishing fourth in the 1-meter diving Thursday, was in first place after all 10 rounds in her specialty.

In fact, she had enough points after nine rounds to win the gold medal. It was Russia’s second gold in two women’s diving events.

``I was not disappointed in the 1-meter because that is not my best event. Tonight was my element,″ Pakhalina said through an interpreter. ``I was sick for awhile, so this was my first competition in several months. I was determined to do well.″

Pakhalina finished with 559.83 points, while silver medalist Chantelle Michell of Australia, who finished third in this year’s world championships, had 488.19. Going into the final round, Pakhalina had 495.45 points.

Pakhalina so dominated the competition that she had 32 awards of either 8.5 or 9.0 from the judges, while Michell’s had no scores that high.

``I won a bronze medal at Perth (the world championships), and I wanted to do at least that well here,″ Michell said. ``This competition was as tough as the world championships, but I’ve really been pointing to the Commonwealth Games as a more important event.″

Michell edged third-place finisher Irina Lashko of Russia by just 0.87 points when Lashko, the gold medalist in the Goodwill Games 1-meter, scored just 35.10 points on her last dive. Michell, diving just after Lashko, scored 55.89.

``I was very nervous in the last two rounds because it was very close for the silver and bronze medals,″ Michell said. ``She won the silver medal in the Olympics and I was diving right behind her.″

After eight rounds, less than 15 points separated second through seventh place.

Erica Sorgi, 16, of Mission Viejo, Calif., and Laura Wilkinson, 20, of Houston, had a good chance to win a medal going into the final two rounds, but neither could manger more than 46 points on the final two dives.

Sorgi finished fifth with 480.06 points and Wilkinson slipped to eighth with 463.74 behind seventh-place finisher Tracy Bonner of Houston, who had 467.85.

``I could’ve done much better on a couple of dives,″ Sorgi said. ``I don’t really know the international competition that well, so it’s hard to know what to expect.″

Guo Jingling of China, the silver medalist in 1-meter diving, balked on one of her dives and got zero points, finished last among 11 divers.

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