Americans Advance But Chinese Gold Medal Threat Is Eliminated
ATLANTA (AP) _ Americans Melisa Moses and Jenny Keim advanced to the semifinal of Olympic springboard diving Tuesday night, while world champion Tan Shuping of China dropped out of contention with two near-bellyflops.
The other Chinese diver, Fu Mingxia, kept alive her hopes of becoming the first woman to win both the springboard and platform events in one Olympics since Ingrid Kramer of Germany did it in 1960. Fu won the platform event Saturday night.
The two Russian divers did well. Vera Ilyina had the highest qualifying score, 308.88. Irina Lashko, the 1992 silver medalist who took 1994 off when she had a baby, qualified eighth.
The top 18 scorers in the 30-woman field advanced to Wednesday morning’s semifinal, which will send 12 divers to the final that night. The preliminary scores will be thrown out and only the semifinal scores will be carried over to the final.
Moses, of Orange Park,. Fla., had the sixth highest score, and Keim, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was ninth. Both were battling physical problems that limited their training. Moses suffered a groin pull about two weeks ago and Keim had back troubles.
The United States has won 11 of the 17 women’s springboard titles but none since 1976 when Jennifer Chandler got the gold medal. In 1992, the Americans won medals in all four diving events except the women’s springboard.
The biggest surprises Tuesday were the failure of Tan and the success of 14-year-old Anna Lindberg of Sweden, who had the second highest score, 292.02.
Tan had won gold medals at the 1993 World Cup and 1994 world championships. She finished second to Fu at the 1995 World Cup and was considered a gold medal threat at these Summer Games.
She was tied for first with Fu after the first of the five rounds of dives and was third after the second round. But a horrible 4.65 score on her third dive, the lowest of the night by any of the divers, dropped her to 25th place.
She came back with an outstanding fourth dive, then messed up her last dive and finished 21st.
Lindberg wasn’t expected to do much in the biggest competition of her life. She is a former gymnast who has been diving just five years and finished seventh in last year’s European championships.
The competition was delayed by a scoreboard glitch before the fourth dive of Germany’s Claudia Bockner. She smiled and walked off the board to compose herself again. It took about eight minutes before she was allowed to dive.
It didn’t seem to bother her as she finished fifth in the preliminaries.
There were intermittent scoreboard problems after that but none caused more than momentary delays.