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Clark's comeback is bronze

Mary Ellen Clark came back from the brink Saturday night.

Back from the dizzying battle with vertigo that nearly ended her career, and back from a brush with elimination in the preliminaries.

She recovered, too, from a poor third dive in the final of the women's 10-meter platform to win the bronze medal, the same medal she won four years ago in Barcelona.

Clark's repeat as bronze medalist at 33 pales a bit beside the achievement of China's Fu Mingxia, who won the gold in Barcelona at 13 and won her second at 17. Fu led from her first dive on, and incredibly, had enough points to win the bronze before she attempted her final dive.

Fu dominated the field in part because of the difficulty of her dives, with only one rated below 3.0 _ a level five of the 12 divers didn't attempt. Her best was a back 3{ somersault tuck rated a 3.3 that drew scores as high as 8.5.

Fu also will compete in the springboard competition, trying to become the first woman to win both events since Ingrid Kramer of the former East Germany in 1960.

In the platform final, Annika Walter of Germany won the silver, and American Becky Ruehl, 18, finished fourth, well behind Clark.

Clark's success may be overshadowed because she violated U.S. Olympic rules by wearing the wrong warm-up outfit.

In what her coach calls an "innocent mistake," Clark got caught up in the emotions of winning a bronze and forgot to change from a Speedo warm-up into the official USOC-issued Champion warm-up for the awards ceremony.

Her slip-up violates the U.S. Olympic Committee's strict code of conduct for athletes. As a result, she could be sent home before Sunday's Closing Ceremonies at Centennial Olympic Stadium.

The violation of team rules also could cost Clark $15,000 in Operation Gold money for the bronze medal, $1,000 monthly USOC stipends, all Olympic items and team apparel and the White House trip with the U.S. Olympic team.

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