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WORLD SWIMMING Canada's Hartley winner in diving



Published: Tue, July 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



She snapped the Chinese dominance by winning the 1-meter event.

MONTREAL (AP) -- From start to finish, it was all Canada on the diving board.

Blythe Hartley led all the way in winning the 1-meter springboard title at the World Swimming Championships on Monday night.

It was Canada's second medal, and first gold, in as many days.

"I thought, maybe, my goal is to make top six in the finals," Hartley said.

"Coming in first is just a shock. It's really exciting for me."

Hartley easily outdistanced silver medalist Wu Min Xia of China, preventing the Chinese from a possible sweep of diving gold medals.

"The Chinese are absolutely amazing and such great divers. It's an honor," said Hartley, who led after the preliminaries and semifinals.

Won two golds Sunday

The Chinese won two synchronized golds Sunday on the first day of competition. They are coming off a dominating performance at the Athens Olympics, where they won six of eight diving golds.

Hartley finished first with 325.65 points. Wu had 299.80. Heike Fischer of Germany earned bronze with 299.46.

"I'm very happy and I'm very proud of my bronze medal," Fischer said.

"I'm still not realizing it now. It's very wonderful."

Anna Lindberg of Sweden was fourth, Alejandra Fuentes of Venezuela was fifth and American Christina Loukas finished last in the field of six.

"I was a little nervous being my first world championship and making it to finals," said Loukas, a 19-year-old from Bloomington, Ind. "I'm really happy about getting sixth, but it seems like I can always do better."

Was 2001 champion

Hartley, a 23-year-old from Vancouver, won the 1-meter world title in 2001 and finished third in the event two years later.

"When I won in 2001 that was such a huge shock. In Barcelona [2003], I didn't dive my best," Hartley said.

"This year was special because I didn't focus on 1-meter because it's not an Olympic event. It's the most memorable win because it's in the home country."

The former gymnast who attends the University of Southern California won a bronze in synchronized platform diving with Emilie Heymans at the Athens Games.

Hartley wasn't the Canadian diver most likely to derail the Chinese on their gold-medal march to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Her teammates, Heymans and Alexandre Despatie, are better known.

Despatie will compete in 3-meter springboard today.

Hartley took a 20-point lead into her final dive -- an inward reverse with 11/2 twists and 11/2 somersaults that Wu and Fischer also performed last.

Got good scores

Hartley scored highest among the three, even though her arms weren't perfectly straight, causing a large splash upon entering the water.

No matter what she did, a small group of Canadian fans waved flags and cheered at the sparsely attended venue on Ile Saint-Helene.

"I thought the fans were great," Hartley said.

"Maybe there could have been a few more in the stands but they sure made a lot of noise."

The Chinese lead the medal standings after two days with two golds and a silver. Germany has one gold, one silver and one bronze.

Canada has one gold and a silver.

The United States has two silvers and a bronze.

The 1-meter springboard was the only medal event on Monday's schedule.

U.S. water polo win

The United States opened men's water polo play with a 7-4 victory over Japan. Jeff Powers and Tony Azevedo scored two goals each.

Reigning Olympic and world champion Hungary defeated Romania 14-4 behind five goals by Norbert Madaras and three from Peter Biros.

In synchronized swimming, Russia, Spain, Japan and the United States were the top four qualifiers among 12 teams for Saturday's team final.




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