Archive for Monday, June 26, 2000

Ruiz scores perfect mark, qualifies for Olympics

June 26, 2000


— High atop the platform, Mark Ruiz grinned at the applause and cheers. Then the smile disappeared and Ruiz somersaulted and twisted 31/2 times on his way into the water.

He was perfect.

Ruiz scored a 10.0 on his last dive, concluding a 10-meter contest in which the native of Puerto Rico led throughout the six-dive final to clinch a second Olympic berth.

Ruiz, 21, of Orlando, Fla., became the first American since Greg Louganis in 1988 to win two events at the U.S. trials. He finished first with 1,154.97 points on platform Sunday after winning 3-meter springboard Thursday.

"It's awesome," Ruiz said. "I wasn't feeling great today. I was a little sore and tired. I wanted to win. I didn't want to settle for second."

David Pichler of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., didn't mind.

Three days after a disastrous final dive on springboard cost him an Olympic berth, Pichler finished second to Ruiz with 1,149.75 points. Pichler, at 31 the oldest man at the trials, was sixth on platform in the Atlanta Games.

"I got in there and fought the whole way. I kind of sabotaged myself the other day," Pichler said. "Today I wasn't going to let that happen."

The rest of the Olympic diving team is: Michelle Davison of Columbia, S.C., and Jenny Keim of Miami (3-meter); Laura Wilkinson of Spring, Texas, and Sara Reiling of St. Paul, Minn. (10-meter); Ruiz and Troy Dumais of Ventura, Calif., (3-meter).

Ron O'Brien, U.S. Diving's national technical director who coached Louganis to four gold medals, likes Ruiz's chances in Sydney.

"Ruiz has a chance to double gold," said O'Brien, adding that Ruiz can be competitive with the top Chinese and Russians, who are medal favorites.

Kraut leads show jumping
Gladestone, N.J. Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, Wis., leads the standings for the show jumping team of the U.S. equestrian team after the first phase of five trials.

She recorded a score of 4.75 faults on her mare Liberty on Sunday, the final day of the $100,000 Rolex/U.S. Show Jumping Championship at U.S. equestrian team headquarters.

"We had to put together a group of people in order to buy her in 1998," Kraut said. "I'd had her three weeks and then I found out I was pregnant and lost those nine months. But she made up for it. I'd just wanted to make the top 12."

Close behind are Raymond Texel of Beverly Hills, Calif., on Pershing with 8.5 faults and Margie Goldstein-Engle of Wellington, Fla., on Hidden Creek's Perin with 9.25 faults.

There were only four clean rounds in the two trials Sunday. The course was toughened from the easier two trials on Friday that produced 29 clean rounds. There was only one clean round in the first trial Wednesday.

The 12 top horse/rider combinations, down from 75 starters, will carry over their scores to five more trials in California the first week of August. The four team members will be announced Aug. 6

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