Mon, Jul 21, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Despatie strikes gold on the 10m platform

AP , BARCELONA, SPAIN

Alexandre Despatie dives during the men's platform finals at the World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

Canada's Alexandre Despatie finally got his gold medal.

The 18-year-old Canadian claimed the gold medal on the 10m platform Saturday in the World Swimming Championships, upsetting two favored Chinese divers.

Despatie scored 716.91 points, with second for Australian Mathew Helm (697.74) and third for China's Tian Liang (696.06). Hu Jia of China was fourth (683.55).

Tian was the gold medalist three years ago in the Sydney Olympics and Hu won silver. Despatie had been close before, taking silver in the same event two years ago in the worlds in Fukuoka, and fourth in the 2000 Olympics.

It was Canada's second gold of the championships with eight days in the pool beginning on Sunday. The US and Australia are expected to dominate there.

Despatie scored a whopping 107.16 points on his final dive, a backward 2 1/2 somersault with a 2 1/2 from the pike position.

"It's a dive I learned some months ago and fortunately it's turned out well," said Despatie.

"It's the hardest dive of the tournament and today was my day," he added.

Team coach Mitch Geller said it was the highest score for that dive that anyone could remember. The dive had a 3.8 difficulty rating.

Four finals in the pool are scheduled for Sunday: men's and women's 400m freestyle and the men's and women's 400m-freestyle relay.

After Day 7, Russia leads the medal table with seven golds and 12 overall. China has three gold and a total of 10. Canada and Italy are the only countries with two golds. Germany has eight overall, but is without a gold.

Russia picked up two more gold medals on Saturday.

Russian distance swimmer Yury Kudinov won the 25km open-water swim in 5 hours, 2 minutes 20 seconds. It was a photo finish with Spain's David Meca 0.4 behind and Bulgarian Peter Stoichev 0.6 back.

Kudinov's victory was his fourth straight in major competitions. He also won the 25K at the 2000 Open Water World Championships, the 2001 World Championships and the 2002 Open Water World Championships.

Open water swimming is not an Olympic event.

"It wasn't easy," Kudinov said. "Maybe I was just lucky. I didn't believe that I could win."

Runner-up Meca was emotional upon learning the result.

Asked if he thought he'd won, he replied: ``The truth is I closed my eyes and I didn't know myself. We all deserved first place. In my swimming career I've never seen so close a race.''

The Netherlands won its first gold medal when Edith Van Dijk took the 25km swim.

In a sprint finish that began with the leading swimmers slightly off course, the Dutchwoman used a straighter line to the finish in 5:35:43.5 ahead of Germans Britta Kamrau (5:35:46.1) and Angela Maurer (5:35:46.5).

Defending world champion Viola Valli of Italy, who won the 5K and 10K races earlier in the week, did not participate.

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