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American Wilkinson Wins Diving Gold

Wilkinson Olympics diving
AP
It was a challenge just to get to Sydney for the American diver who surprised everyone including herself when she won the gold medal, says CBS News Reporter Steve Futterman.

The U.S. won an unexpected gold medal as 22-year-old Laura Wilkinson of Houston upset the favored Chinese to win the 10-meter platform dive. She nailed a string of dives in her final round to rally from fifth place, breaking a string of four straight gold medals by Chinese divers at the Olympics, and winning America's first Olympic gold in 36 years on the 10-meter platform

"I can't describe it," she sobbed. "I can't describe it."

For the two-time NCAA platform diving champion, the victory was especially sweet: Just six months ago, she broke her foot.


AP
The winning dive

"I knew I had a big task ahead of me, almost the impossible," she told Futterman, "but I was just thinking about that all day and tried to settle myself down and say 'Hey, this is just another meet, just a lot more people here.'"

Wilkinson finished first with 543.75 points, just 1.74 points ahead of China's Li Na, who had 542.01. Anne Montminy of Canada earned bronze with 540.15.

Even before her triumph, Wilkinson grinned every time she walked to the edge of the tower.

Unlike her stern-faced competitors, Wilkinson looked out at the huge crowd, seeking out the faces of her family and supporters jauntily waving U.S. flags. Their loud cheering increased the confidence she already felt.

"I just tried to calm myself down," she told CBS Radio News. "I wanted to end on a good note and soak everything in and...it went well."

Marathon runner Naoko Takahashi became the first Japanese woman to win a gold medal in track and field. To do so, she chose one of the most grueling events, and she did it in style.

On a sticky Sunday morning (Saturday night EDT), Takahashi won the gold medal in an Olympic-best 2 hours, 23 minutes, 14 seconds - eight seconds ahead of runner-up Lidia Simon of Romania. Joyce Chepchumba of Kenya won bronze.

Takahashi crossed the finish line, then bowed to the crowd in the 110,000-seat Olympic Stadium. Waving a Japanese flag, she added another leg to her 26-mile run - a smiling lap around the stadium, grinning widely as the crowd cheered and handed her bouquets.

Japanese flags greeted Takahashi along much of the marathon course, which crossed the Harbor Bridge and wound through the streets of Sydney before heading into the suburbs and the stadium.

"It really hasn't set in to me that I have really won the god medal," Takahashi said through a translator. "Sometimes I feel a little sorry that it's finished and sometimes I feel relieved."

Elsewhere on the track, American Allen Johnson, the defending gold medalist in the 110-meter hurdles, ran through a hamstring injury to win his first heat. The hurdler went directly from the track for more treatment on his injured left leg.

He was joined in the second round by teammate and 1996 Atlanta silver medalist Mark Crear, along with American Terrence Trammell. Also advancing were world champion Colin Jackson of Britain and medal contender Anier Garcia of Cuba.

A pair of Americans reached the discus finals: reigning world champion Anthony Washington and teammate Adam Setliff. A third American, John Godina, was eliminated in the qualifying round just two days after winning a shot put bronze.

  • TENNIS: Monica Seles jumped all over Dominique Van Roost of Belgium in a 6-0, 6-2 victory. Seles, now in the Olympic semifinals, needs just one win to capture her first Olympic medal. Her opponent in the next round: the winner of the quarterfinal between second-seeded Venus Williams and No. 5 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain.

    "It's going to be a very tough match, but that's how it should be it's the semifinals of the Olympics," Seles said. "Obviously it would be fun to play Venus. We're teammates. At least that way, we know one of us would go through."

  • ROWING: : U.S. rower Christine Collins, a four-time world champion, took her first shot at an Olympic medal. She wanted gold. She settled for bronze Sunday (Saturday night EDT).

    Collins and partner Sarah Garner took an early lead in the lightweight double sculls, but dropped to third midway through the race and never recovered.

    "We pushed out in front and just tried to hold on," Collins said. "We just didn't have the same kick at the end as they did. We kind of knew through the week that it would be tough."

    Collins patted her partner's back after the finish, then shared hugs and handshakes with the champion Romanians and runner-up Germans on the medals stand.

    The United States, the only team to qualify in all 14 rowing events, won just two bronze and a silver for its worst effort since 1972.

  • BOXING: With his father watching, U.S. 112-pounder Jose Navarro punched his way into the Olympic quarterfinals with a 12-9 decision over Hicham Mesbahi of Morocco. Mesbahi, upset with the decision, pounded the canvas when it was announced.

    Navarro's father, Carlos, had missed his son's first fight after missing a plane in Los Angeles. Navarro became the sixth U.S. boxer to advance to the quarterfinals.

  • BEACH VOLLEYBALL: In a match where an American team had to lose, the U.S. team of Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana whipped the U.S. team of Rob Heidger and Kevin Wong 15-3. The victory advances the winners to the semifinals and a possible medal.
  • ANOTER DRUG POSITIVE: Latvian rower Andris Reinholds was kicked out of the Olympics after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone. Reinholds, who finished ninth in the men's single sculls, tested positive during a random test during competition last week.

    Previously, three Bulgarian weightlifters and a Belarussian hammer thrower were expelled for positive tests. At least 20 other athletes were caught in pre-games testing by their sports federations, national Olympic committees or the new World Anti-Doping Agency.