May 2, 2008

High Level, High Expectations

TIJUANA, Mexico.— While, prior to the Olympics, Paola Espinosa has been rising a high medal expectation, Yahel Castillo has become a sweet revelation.

Both won gold on their individual competitions and said good bye to the Tijuana and Mexico fans with one more medal, each, on their necks in the final day of activities, but they were not alone at all.

Castillo and Espinosa competed in the synchronized diving events making couple with Luis Angel Huerta and Tatiana Ortiz respectively. Castillo and Huerta finished on third place after a score of 391.68 points on the 3 meter diving board, just below China’s Feng Wang and Kai Qin, who finished with 444.09 units.

Just in the middle, Russia’s veteran Dimitry Sautin along with Yuriy Kuarkov won the Silver. The “Cossack” duo closed with 440.07 points while Sautin showed that, by himself or not there is enough time to enjoy his job.

The key to keep on the podium, recognized both Castillo and Huerta, was their last dive with a 3.5 difficulty degree, with a 8.5 and 9 qualifications by the judges. That was enough to be over the Cubans Jorge Betancourt and Jose Guerra, who looked like a real threat to the Mexican couple.

The other Synchro final, from the 10 meter tower, Espinosa appeared with Ortiz motivating the audience. Like Castillo and Huerta, they had a third place in a very hard battle against the Chinese Ruolin Chen and Xin Wang, whose movements were perfect for gold’s worth.

But this was also the time for the Canadians with Marie Eve Marleau and Emilie Heymans, who concluded three points ahead of Mexico. Heymans experience as a two-time Olympic medalist was important in reaching the podium even though she recognized it wasn’t her best performance along with Marleau, who has been her partner in very important events such as the Pan Am Games and the World Cup, for example.

“It was our first competition in two months and we lacked some competitive sharpness,” said Marleau, to the Canadian Press Agency. “We’ve been training regularly but it’s different when you have that stress of competition.”

Chen and Wang finished on top with 368.82 points, followed by the Canadians (326.88) and the locals Ortiz and Espinosa with 323.76 units. “They reached a third place, it was a good result not only for them, but for the Mexican diving discipline overall”, said former diver and silver medalist Fernando Platas about his country’s female representative performance on the last journey.

But overall the audience was a real winner, considered members and representatives of the organizing committee because of a sold out session in the second and final day of activities. There was not enough space on the bleachers and the CAR’s general entrance, located 500 meters away from the Aquatic Complex doors, had to be closed.

Only people with tickets previously issued were allowed to pass through the gate always crossed by junior athletes in route to national competitions. But for the last weekend many of those kids if lucky, they could get in to the fully transformed diving tank and a swimming pool covered by a metal structure bleachers.

“They showed their support, and that really helps the divers to demonstrate why they are in a great moment in their careers”, pointed Platas. That attitude didn’t disappoint the more than 2,000 people who followed the end of the FINA Diving World Series first stop for the first time in this border city.

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