Older, Younger US Divers Qualify for Beijing

June 23, 2008 7:27:55 AM PDT
Laura Wilkinson is closing out her long career with a third trip to the Olympics. The 30-year-old Texan can bow out knowing that the future of U.S. diving belongs to a passel of youngsters who love to throw down 10s. David Boudia heads to Beijing as a potential star, having finished third in the Olympic pool during a World Cup meet in February. The 19-year-old from suburban Noblesville won the 10-meter platform Sunday at the U.S. trials, receiving 11 perfect marks from the judges.

"David is amazing," Wilkinson said. "I'll really be rooting for him."

Boudia finished with 1,642.20 points, while his 18-year-old friend Thomas Finchum had to settle for runner-up with 1,583.50 despite receiving 10s on three of his six dives.

The U.S. men have not won an Olympic gold on platform since Greg Louganis captured his second straight at the 1988 Seoul Games. The Chinese are heavily favored to dominate the diving events in their home pool.

"I know it's definitely possible to dethrone the Chinese and win gold," Boudia said.

Wilkinson proved it in 2000, winning a surprise gold medal in Sydney.

She held off 15-year-old Haley Ishimatsu on Sunday to win platform for the third time at trials. Wilkinson totaled 1,214.50 points to Ishimatsu's 1,140.40.

The second individual spots, as well as all four synchronized teams, will be chosen at a selection camp in Knoxville, Tenn., from July 2-6. The top six finishers in the four individual events at trials were invited to attend.

Troy Dumais earned his third Olympic trip by dominating the men's 3-meter, while Christina Loukas won the women's springboard competition Saturday.

Finchum and Ishimatsu likely will be selected for the second 10-meter spots. Also, Finchum and Boudia are expected to be picked as the 10-meter synchro team.

"I know he's going to be right there beside me in Beijing," Boudia said.

Finchum actually had the highest score at the trials, which was comprised of three rounds with six dives each. But Boudia came into the meet with a 65-point bonus for his third-place showing at the World Cup.

"If I couldn't be the one on the team, I wanted it to be David," Finchum said. "I know I can go out there and do all my dives for perfect 10s. You have to expect perfection."

Wilkinson botched her second dive badly, her legs splaying as she hit the water. But, as she's known for doing, she calmly bounced back the next time up the 33-foot tower.

On a reverse 3½ somersault from the tuck position, Wilkinson barely made a splash upon entry. She climbed out, bowed toward the water and looked up to see all 10s on the scoreboard for the first time in her career.

"My second dive is hard for me. It's there, but it's still inconsistent," she said. "It was nice to come back with some fire on the reverse."

Ishimatsu earned 9s on three of her five dives.

Boudia received perfect marks from six of the seven judges for his fourth attempt, a reverse 3½ somersault tuck. He got five more 10s in the next-to-last round with an even tougher dive, a back 3½ somersault from the pike position. Both times, he barely rippled the surface.

"Finally, it's happening," he said. "Once I went under water, I knew I was going to be on that team."

The top four finishers in men's platform are all teenagers. Boudia is 19, Finchum 18, Drew Livingston 17 and Nick McCrory 16.

Boudia remembers the U.S. getting shut out of medals four years ago in Athens for the first time in 92 years. He might be the best American chance to knock off the powerful Chinese.

"We've seen them get beat before," he said. "We know they can be beaten, which is good to know."