Wilkinson Athens Bound
Sunday night at the Olympic Trials in St. Louis it was experience over youth in the end. Laura Wilkinson, CTC, was leading coming into the evening and left as the winner of the Woman’s Platform Event earning the right to represent the United States at the 2004 Olympics.
The final night of the O-Trials was an exciting one with the top two competitors separated by less than 6 points heading into their final dive. Laura Wilkinson, 2004 Woman’s World Platform Champion, struggled throughout night. One of Laura’s strength’s is her consistency and that was missing from her diving tonight. Laura started the event with a solid 6243D for 8’s. The second round opened the door up to the field of diver’s after Laura reached in front of herself on her 407C entry and left the dive short for 4’s. The 3rd round provided even more opportunity for the field after Laura’s 107B went long for 6’s.
The standings after three rounds found Laura leading teenager Brittany Viola, 714.78-709.47. Kimiko Soldati was third with 691.32 and Jessica Livingston was 4th with 686.19. The pool was a buzz with how close the contest had become. Viola started the evening in 5th place with little expectations and now she was a contender. Viola “RIPPED” her first three dives, 107B, 407C and 5253B, for 7.5/8’s and an average score of 73 points/dive. These dives put Brittany in position to possible make the Olympic Team and defeat the World Champion.
Round Four: A GREAT round of diving for any diving fan and sports fan for that matter. Viola lead off with a 205B that “RIPPED” for 8.5’s. Soldati’s 305B was solid for 8’s. Livingston’s 305C disappeared and the crowd erupted. Expecting at least one “10” the crowd was disappointed when only 9’s appeared on the scoreboard. Wilkinson was last and she had more D.D. on her 207C, 3.3, then her competitors and was solid for 7.5’s, which kept her in the lead going into the final round. LW 787.05, BV 781.68, KS 760.05, and JL 757.47.
Viola was first and had .2 less D.D. than the other three divers. Viola’s 6243D had an amazing beginning. One on the best handstands in the country, Viola wowed the crowd as she stood backward on the platform and pressed her legs up to the sky in a controlled “V” till her legs came together at the top with a perfect toe point. She held the handstand for what everyone felt was an eternity and then kipped herself off the platform. Twisting and flipping through the air Brittany missed her spot and went for her entry a little under and the dive rotated long for 5.5’s. Soldati and Livingston both had a 5253B, D.D.3.4, and the two received the exact same scores of 7’s and 70.38 points from the judges. Not enough to take over Viola for second.
The final diver of the Olympic Trials for the final spot on the Olympic team, Laura stood on the edge of the platform and smiled. Her 5253B was one of her most consistent dives and after the whistle blew she showed everyone why she deserved to represent the United States at the Olympics in Athens. The Highest scoring dive of the contest, 91.80 points, and 9’s from the judges. A dramatic “RIP” to an exciting week in St. Louis. Final score LW 878.85, BV 836.40, KS 830.43, and JL 827.85.