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Keim Going Back to the Olympics

June 22, 2000

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (AP) _ Jenny Keim thought one trip to the Olympics was enough.

She retired from diving after finishing ninth on springboard at the Atlanta Games, figuring it was time to get on with life as a normal teen-ager. For a year, Keim didn’t do much more than graduate from high school and sit on the couch, watching television.

‘``Days of our Lives’ was my favorite show,″ she said.

But Keim was lured back to the sport by a scholarship from the University of Miami. Now, she’s going back to the Olympics.

Keim, 22, won the 3-meter springboard Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials, giving her a chance to improve on her performance four years ago.

``I’m a long way from where I thought I would be,″ she said.

Keim was joined on the team by first-timer Michelle Davison, a 20-year-old from Columbia, S.C., who began dreaming of a trip to the Olympics when she watched Greg Louganis in 1988.

``I thought to myself, ’Wow, wouldn’t it be great to represent my country?‴ Davison recalled. ``I wanted to be part of that.″

Keim, home-schooled by her mother in south Florida, considers herself more well-rounded than she was in Atlanta. She has a boyfriend, loves to socialize and plans to attend law school after her diving career ends for good.

``I was sort of isolated before,″ Keim said. ``Now, I’m not just Jenny Keim, the diver. I’m Jenny Keim, the person.″

Keim cruised to victory in the trials with 860.31 points. Davison finished with 844.59, edging out teammate Michelle Rojohn of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by 4.56 points.

``I knew it was really close,″ said Davison, her lip quivering and tears streaming down her face. ``She worked really hard. It’s a tough thing for her. But I’m glad I did my dives.″

Davison, fifth on springboard in the ’96 trials, pressured Rojohn with three dives that each had a 3.0 degree of difficulty. Rojohn, competing in her first trials, didn’t attempt any dives harder than 2.9.

``I’m happy with the way I dove,″ said Rojohn, who turns 27 Thursday. ``You can only take care of yourself. The other girls dove better.″

Two more spots on the Olympic team will be claimed Thursday night in the men’s 3-meter final. David Pichler of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was leading with 682.86 points, but Troy Dumais of Ventura, Calif., was only 1.2 points behind.

Heavy favorite Mark Ruiz of Orlando, Fla., struggled in the morning preliminaries _ hitting his toes on the board on one dive _ but rebounded in the semifinals Wednesday night. He moved from seventh to fifth with 663.72 points.

``I know I have a chance to make it,″ Ruiz said.

Dumais, denied an Olympic platform diving berth in 1996 by Pichler, barely trailed his rival on springboard after the semifinals.

Dumais was third behind Pichler and Kevin McMahon of Fremont, Neb., going into his final dive. But he moved up with a pike inward 1 1/2 somersault that earned him marks ranging from 9.0 to 9.5 from seven judges.

``Everybody is stepping up and pushing each other,″ said Dumais, whose brother, Justin, also made the 13-man finals. ``When I’m behind, I push myself a little more. It’s like I get more of a rush, more adrenaline.″

Rio Ramirez of Miami, a Cuban defector awaiting permission from his native country to compete for the United States, was ninth, 55 points behind Pichler.

``I’m just thinking about my diving,″ Ramirez said. ``I just want to do a good performance and please myself, my coach and the people who came to watch. I know what’s going on, but I can’t think about it.″

Keim and Davison were 1-2 after the women’s semifinals a day earlier, and they stayed that way throughout the five-dive final at King County Aquatic Center.

Diving with her sore right triceps taped, Keim never lost her lead while saving her toughest dives _ both with a 3.0 difficulty degree _ for her final two.

Her marks for both were well off the 8.5s to 9.0s she earned for her first three dives, but she had a big enough lead to hold off Davison.

Keim climbed out of the pool, checked the scoreboard, then raised her arms in the air and smiled at the outcome.

Struggling to get the tape off her arm, she said, ``It feels fine right now.″

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