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Sport - Olympic Games Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Lashko has the edge

ATHENS, AUG. 26. Irina Lashko will try to make it another golden day for the Australian divers.

Lashko, who represented Russia at the 1992 and '96 Olympics before becoming an Australian citizen, advanced to the final of 3-metre springboard with the top score from Thursday's semifinals. Chinese stars Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia were second and third.

Chantelle Newbery already pulled off an upset on the 10-metre platform — the first diving gold medal for Australia in 80 years. Lashko hoped to give the divers from Down Under a sweep of the women's individual events.

Rachelle Kunkel of the United States barely qualified for the final, holding off Olena Fedorova of Ukraine in the final round.

Both ended with the same dive — a reverse 1 somersault with a half twist. Fedorova received slightly better marks, but it wasn't enough to overtake Kunkel for 12th place. The American totalled 504.51 points in the preliminaries and semifinals, edging Fedorova by 1.23.

The top 12 advanced to the final. The 31-year-old Lashko totalled 246.51 points on her five semifinal dives, giving her a slender edge over Guo (243.06) and Wu (240.39). The Chinese have dominated women's springboard for 16 years, winning four straight gold medals at the Olympics.

Russia's Yulia Pakhalina had the best score from the preliminaries and semifinals, giving her the right to dive last in the final even though her semifinal score (237.42) left her in fourth place.

Lashko won the silver medal in springboard at the Barcelona Games, when the Russians were part of the Unified Team. She took silver again in Atlanta, and continued to represent her native country until she moved to Australia in 1998, marrying and becoming an Aussie citizen the following year. — AP

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