Guo Jingjing advanced to the semifinal round of the women’s springboard diving competition at the Beijing Olympics as the top qualifier, but in a departure from the first four events on the diving schedule, a Chinese diver did not lead from start to finish.
Guo was forced to come from behind after finding herself in third place after three rounds. A less than satisfactory – at least by Chinese standards, third round forward 3 ½ somersaults in pike put her behind both Yulia Pakhalina of Russia and Blythe Hartley of Canada. She rebounded from her uncharacteristic error to lead Pakhalina by 15.75 points.
The top 18 divers in the preliminaries advance to the semifinal round scheduled for 8:00 am EDT on Saturday, August 16. The scores from the prelims will be erased, and the divers will start again from zero during the semifinals. The object of this first round of diving is to advance, and for many of the divers this presents an opportunity to work out any nervous anxiety that may come with Olympic competition.
These nerves were in evidence for U.S. divers Christina Loukas and Nancilea Foster. Foster’s first dive, a back 2 ½ somersaults in pike position, scored only 43.5 point and the 24-year-old Texan found herself in 27th place after the first round. She shook off her case of opening round jitters and moved to 11th place by the end of the competition.
Loukas also dropped in a subpar effort on her fourth round dive, a reverse 2 ½ somersaults in pike, but finished in eighth to also advance.
Loukas and Foster are hoping to improve on the performance of the U.S. women in 2004, in which Rachelle Kunkel finished ninth and Kimiko Soldati finished 21st. An American has not won an Olympic medal in women’s springboard diving since Kelly McCormick’s bronze in 1998.
Wu Minxia, a runner-up to Guo on springboard at the 2007 World Championships, finished in fourth position. Wu recently defeated Guo at the 2008 FINA World Cup and the pair have been favored to sweep the springboard competition.
Jennifer Abel, the 16-year-old prodigy from Canada, qualified for the semifinals in tenth place after a dissapointing third round dive that received judges scores of 2.5 to 4, scoring only 30 points.
Medal hopefuls Laura Sanchez (Mexico) and Tania Cognotto (Italy) also advanced, finishing in fifth and sixth place respectively.
- Ukraine diver Anna Psymenska, who finished seventh in the women’s synchronized springboard, failed to advance to the semifinals, finishing in 26th place.
- China, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy and the U.S. all qualified two divers for the semifinal field of 18.
- Tania Cagnotto of Italy is the daughter of five-time Olympian, and four-time Olympic medalist Giorgio Cagnotto.
- At the young age of 27, Swedish diver Anna Lindberg is competing in her fifth Olympic Games. She is the daughter of 1976 platform gold medalist and three-time medal winner Ulrike Knape.
- Guo Jingjing (China) – 373.90
- Yulia Pakhalina (Russia) – 358.15
- Blythe Hartley (Canada) – 350.60
- Wu Minxia (China) – 349.45
- Laura Sanchez (Mexico) – 334.34
- Tania Cagnotto (Italy) – 332.90
- Olena Fedorova (Ukraine) – 323.75
- Christina Loukas (United States) – 312.60
- Katia Dieckow (Germany) – 302.70
- Jennifer Abel (Canada) – 300.75
- Nancilea Foster (United States) – 300.15
- Anna Lindberg (Sweden) – 294.75
- Sharleen Stratton (Australia) – 288.00
- Maria Elisabetta Marconi (Italy) – 286.10
- Chantelle Newbery (Australia) – 284.85
- Ditte Kotzian (Germany - 282.80
- Jashia Luna (Mexico) – 276.85
- Nora Barta (Hungary) – 276.15
- Svetlana Filippova (Russia) – 274.20
- Diana Isabel Pineda (Columbia) – 268.85
- Elizabeth Jimie (Malaysia) – 253.50
- Mun Yee Leong (Malaysia) – 253.50
- Sheila Mae Perez (Philippines) – 251.15
- Villo Kormos (Hungary) – 247.95
- Rebecca Gallantree (Great Britain) – 232.75
- Anna Psymenska (Ukraine) – 223.50
- Veronika Kratochwil (Austria) – 218.75
- Jenna Dreyer (South Africa) – 210.90
- Darya Romenskaya (Belarus) – 207.00
- Jenifer Benitez (Spain) – 194.05
Women’s Olympic Springboard Diving Preliminary Results
Top 18 divers advance to Semifinal Round