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2004 Olympic Diving Trials Men's Platform Finals
Ron Kontura

Saturday Night at the Olympic Trials in St. Louis was one for the ages. The rule of Caesar (Garcia) commenced on the pillars by the pool. Caesar reigned on the platform throughout the night and everyone bowed to his diving.  Garcia increased his lead round by round till his final dive became the highest scoring dive at this year’s Olympic Trials.  A 5253B that received five 10’s and two 9.5’s from the judges for a total score of 100.98 points.

The day started out with a lot of talk about the teenager from Indianapolis, Thomas Finchum, who trailed Garcia by 27 points. But that talk was silenced in the first round after Finchum kicked out a little early on his 207C for 4’s and 39.6 points. Garcia nailed his 107B for 8.5/9’s and took a commanding lead of 65 points going into the next round of diving.

It was already determined by the Syncro results that the winner of the event would receive an Olympic berth. The second spot on the team would go to the top diver of the two that won the Syncro event. This means that the Olympic Team in 2004 would be the winner of the contest tonight and the highest finisher between Kyle Prandi and Mark Ruiz.

Mark was up on Kyle by 25 points heading into the finals. The second round made to contest between the two interesting when Prandi nailed his 109C, Forward 4.5ss, for 8’s and 80.64 points. Ruiz was short on his 407C for 6’s and 63.36 points. Prandi was 5 points behind heading into the 3rd round.

Mark made another mistake by kicking late on his 307C for 5.5’s and 56.10 points. Prandi’s 207B in the 3rd round was short for 6’s, but carried a D.D. of 3.6 to moved him ahead of Mark 791.49-787.11 with 3 dives to go. Kyle’s 4th round dive, 307C, was solid for 8’s and 78.54 points. Ruiz followed with the dive of the meet to this point. A 207C for 9’s and one 10 for a score of 93.06 points, putting him ahead of Prandi, 880.10-870.03.

The 5th round was the end of the contest between the two. Prandi and Ruiz both had a 626C to perform. Kyle was first and “RIPPED” his for 9’s and one “10” for 88.32 points. Mark walked down the tower after Kyle’s dive. The crowd had no clue what was going on. It seems that Mark has been having some problems with the dive and crashed it in warm-ups. Mark didn’t want to risk injury and conceded the dive to Kyle and the field. Failed Dive.

This incident insured that Kyle Prandi would be diving in the Olympics on the Platform regardless of what place he ended up in the contest. In the past, the top two qualified for the games, but today it was only going to be the winner. Kyle still wanted to prove he belongs and on his final dive, 5255B that carries a D.D. of 3.8, he was solid. Klye received 98.04 points from the judges and moved into second place in the contest.

Thomas Finchum settled down in rounds 2-5 and averaged over 75 points per dive. He was hanging on the second place by 6 points and after Kyle hit his last dive, the pressure was on for second place. Everybody knew second place wasn’t an Olympic berth, but to finish what Thomas had started was what he desired to do. Thomas was near perfect on his 5253B and received 9’s from the judges and 95.88 point, which overtook Prandi 1062.09-1056.39 for second place. Not an Olympic berth, but a performance of a Champion!

It was all Caesar throughout the night. Needed only 6 points on his final dive to win, Garcia’s 5253B was historic and gave him a 1157.94 – 1062.09 victory and Olympic Team Berth. Justin Dumais ended up in 4th place with a total score of 1010.67 points. Justin matched Caesar’s final dive with that exact same dive, 5253B, for the exact same scores, five ”10” and two 9.5’s, for total score of 100.98 points.

-Ron Kontura

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