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Published: Monday, 7/30/2012

Columbus-area native wins silver in synchronized diving

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Abby Johnston, a Columbus-area native, front, and Kelci Bryant finished second with 321.90 points, ending the country's diving medal drought that extended to the 2000 Sydney Games. It was the first Olympic synchro medal for the U.S. Abby Johnston, a Columbus-area native, front, and Kelci Bryant finished second with 321.90 points, ending the country's diving medal drought that extended to the 2000 Sydney Games. It was the first Olympic synchro medal for the U.S.
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LONDON -- Wu Minxia is close to crowning herself China's new diving queen.

Wu and partner He Zi won the first diving gold medal of the London Olympics on Sunday, putting the country on a path toward a possible sweep of the eight medals.

They led throughout the five-dive round and totaled 346.20 points in the 3-meter synchronized event.

"It's kind of if they mess up, then you have an opportunity," said American silver medalist Abby Johnston, a Columbus-area native. "Anything can happen in this sport, so you still have that possibility."

It was Wu's fifth Olympic medal, one short of countryman Guo Jingjing's record of six medals. Guo was China's superstar diver until her retirement 1 1/2 years ago.

"I am impressed by them," Johnston said. "I watch their video. That's one of my training methods, just watching them and how they do it."

Johnston and Kelci Bryant finished second with 321.90 points, ending the country's diving medal drought that extended to the 2000 Sydney Games. It was the first Olympic synchro medal for the U.S.

"Our curse is out of the way," said Bryant, who finished fourth in springboard synchro with a different partner in Beijing.

"Abby and I just kicked it off with this event and I think the rest of the team is going to come through," she said. "After 2008, all of us were really close and we needed to fine-tune our training."

Laura Wilkinson's gold on 10-meter platform in Sydney, where she upset the Chinese despite a broken foot, was the last U.S. medal. The Americans were shut out in Athens and again in Beijing.

"This is a new beginning," U.S. high performance director Steve Foley said. "We've got to forget the great USA diving history because really that was 20-plus years ago. It wasn't just 12 years ago when Laura won because they only got one medal, so the glory days were gone a long time ago."

After receiving their medals -- Bryant cried and Johnston smiled broadly on the podium -- Bryant reminded Johnston to hold up her prize as they posed for a gaggle of photographers on the deck.

The U.S. duo was third after the first round, then moved up to second and stayed there despite a mere 1.5-point lead over Canada after the fourth round. Bryant deliberately didn't watch the scoreboard during the competition.

"I have all the faith in the world when I get up on that board Kelci is going to hit her dive and I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm going to hit mine," Johnston said.

Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel earned the bronze with 316.80 for Canada's first medal of the Games.

"If you have the performance of your life you're going to be happy," Johnston said. "We had the performance of our lives and I'm ecstatic."

Unlike the individual events, synchro diving goes directly to the final at the Olympics, with no preliminaries or semifinals.



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