Texas-Ex and Olympic champion Laura Wilkinson takes platform gold at World Championships
MONTREAL, Canada -- Former Olympic gold medalist and University of Texas NCAA champion Laura Wilkinson earned another international honor on Wednesday evening, winning the platform diving competition at the 2005 World Swimming Championships in Montreal.
Wilkinson (Spring, Texas) who earned Olympic gold in that event in the Sydney 2000 Olympics and who also captured the 2004 World Cup gold medal in the platform event, came from behind to post her most recent gold-medal performance. Wilkinson finished with 564.87 points. Athens Olympics bronze medalist Loudy Tourky of Australia secured the platform silver with 551.25 points, and China's Tong Jia was third with a score of 550.98. Wilkinson earned the USAís first gold medal of the event.
Wilkinson is one of three former Longhorn diving greats to turn in medal-winning efforts at the World Championships in the four days of competition. Troy and Justin Dumais, former NCAA greats while at UT, earned three medals earlier in the week. Troy took the silver medal in the 3-meter World Championship event and then teamed with his brother Justin to gain the bronze in 3-meter synchronized diving. Impressively, it was the Longhorn trio of divers who have put the USA diving squad back on the World Championship map; the USA had been shut out of all medals at the 2003 World Championships, the last time the event had taken place.
Like her 2000 Olympic Games victory, Wednesday's 10-meter contest offered challenges. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Wilkinson competed with a broken foot and used a kayak shoe to climb the 33 feet to the top of the platform.
Leading after the preliminary and semifinal rounds, Wilkinson had one major gaffe in the finals Wednesday as her feet smacked the water on her second dive, dropping her from first place to fifth. But she climbed back into third on her next dive and took the lead for good on her fourth as she came charging back to earn 9.0s and 9.5s on two of the remaining three dives to end the event with 564.87 points and the gold.
Wilkinson, Tourky and Jia did the same fifth and final dive, a backward 2 1/2 somersault with a 1 1/2 twist. Jia scored the highest, but Wilkinson's marks ranging from 9.5 to 9.9 kept her in front.
"I really didn't think I could come back strong enough, so I was just having a blast up there trying to do my dives as best that I could," said Wilkinson, who had wrist surgery six months ago. "I just want to say that I had a blast in Montreal. The crowd was fantastic. It feels so much like home. Thank you, Canada."
Emilie Heymans of Canada, Tong and Wilkinson had been the leading contenders going into the 10-meter platform final. Wilkinson had the highest point total of 536.19 after the semifinals, although the preliminary scores that carried over to the semis were dropped for the final, leaving her third behind Heymans and Jia.
Wilkinsonís first-place finish also gave the United States its second gold medal of the day on Wednesday. Chip Peterson won the 10-kilometer open-water swimming race for the first American gold.
Canada, China, Russia and the United States were tied atop the medal standings with two golds each after four days. The U.S. led with six medals overall. The Canadians won gold medals in women's 1-meter springboard and men's 3-meter springboard.
Wilkinson dives again on Sunday, July 24 in the women's synchronized 3-meter event with Chelsea Davis of Columbus, Ohio.