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Lenzi, Donie spring into semifinals

Defending champion Mark Lenzi rallied after two poor dives in Sunday night's preliminaries and joined teammate Scott Donie in the Olympic springboard semifinals.

Both medal contenders face stiff competition from Xiong Ni and Yu Zhuocheng, both of China.

Xiong, the top scorer in the preliminaries, is trying to win the only kind of Olympic medal he's missing. In the 10-meter platform event, he won a silver in 1988 and a bronze in 1992.

Xiong finished the night with 463.02 points. Yu, who won the 3-meter springboard at the 1994 world championships, is second with 438.93.

Donie, 27, of Houston, qualified in fourth place with 414.03, and Lenzi, 28, of Bloomington, Ind., worked his way up to ninth with 372.03.

Each of the 39 competitors took six dives as the field was cut to the top 18. Their points are carried over to this morning's semifinals, when the field will be cut to 12 for the finals tonight.

Lenzi retired after the 1993 season and went to flight school. But he resumed his competitive career in April 1995 and qualified second behind Donie at the U.S. trials last month.

He was tied for second after his first dive Sunday, but messed up his next two, totaling just 88.20 points, to fall to 26th. He shook that off and scored 71.61 to move into 16th after his fourth dive and followed with a 72.27 to take 11th.

Donie was much more consistent. He was eighth after his first dive and stayed in fourth through sixth the rest of the way.

Like Lenzi, he also reached a turning point after winning the platform silver medal in 1992. He shifted to the springboard and was the top qualifier at the Olympic trials.

Dmitry Sautin of Russia was the springboard bronze medalist in Barcelona, the 1994 platform world champion, and the World Cup springboard champion last year.

He is trying to match Greg Louganis' feat in 1984 and 1988 of winning both the springboard and platform titles at the same Olympics, but wasn't at his best Sunday night. He finished sixth with 391.74 points.

Other top qualifiers were Michael Murphy of Australia in third place with 419.13 points, and Andreas Wels of Germany in fourth with 405.33.

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