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The Big Event // CHINA NEARS SWEEP

WHAT: Men's platform diving semi and final.

WHEN: Semifinal scheduled for 11:30 a.m.; final for 10 p.m.

CHINESE SWEEP?: With Xiong Ni's victory on the men's springboard, and Fu Mingxia's sweep of the two women's events (platform, springboard), the Chinese could take all four diving titles. Xiao Hailiang, appearing in his first Olympics, and teammate Tian Liang are in position to help complete the sweep.

The only country to win every diving title at an Olympics is the United States, which has done it six times: in 1952, 1948, and from 1924 to 1936.

AMERICAN SHUTOUT?: The United States has won at least one diving gold medal in each of the Olympics it has attended since 1912. But Americans have won just two medals this time, both bronze. In Thursday's preliminary round, David Pichler was sixth and Patrick Jeffrey

was fifth.

TOP CONTENDERS: China's depth in this event is mind-boggling. Defending Olympic champion Sun Shuwei isn't even in Atlanta, and his teammates are filling his shoes nicely.

Since Sun's victory in 1992, four other Chinese men have placed in the top three in at least one major international competition.

Besides Xiao and Tian, gold-medal threats include Russians Dmitry Sautin and Vladimir Timoshinin. Sautin won at the 1994 worlds and Timoshinin won at the 1994 Goodwill Games.

Pichler, the reigning U.S. champion, is the United States' best medal hope. But Jeffrey has plenty of experience. He has been an Olympic finalist before, finishing 12th in 1988.

Past winners

Year Name, country, score

1992 Sun Shuwei, China, 677.31

1988 Greg Louganis, U.S., 638.61

1984 Greg Louganis, U.S., 710.91

1980 Falk Hoffmann, E. Ger., 835.650

1976 Klaus Dibiasi, Italy, 600.51

1972 Klaus Dibiasi, Italy, 504.12

1968 Klaus Dibiasi, Italy, 164.18

_ SHARON GINN

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