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Clark barely in, American Ruehl in 2nd

Mary Ellen Clark's hopes for another medal almost ended on the first day of competition.

Clark, bronze medalist in 1992, needed a strong final dive to qualify among the 18 who advanced to today's semifinals.

Defending champion Fu Mingxia of China held the first-day lead with 329.25 points, which carry into the semis, followed by 18-year-old American Becky Ruehl with 323.91.

Clark, from Fort Lauderdale, did not enter the water vertical on her third and fourth dives and was 18th heading into the fifth and final dive.

She entered the water with barely a splash after a backward 1{ somersault with 2{ twists and scored 7.5s and 8s to qualify 12th with 253.89.

Ruehl, in her first Games, overtook leader Guo Jingjing of China, who finished fourth with 315.39, to take first in the final round. But Fu topped Ruehl's performance with a high-scoring final dive.