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Mexico's Espinosa on way for Olympic star
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18:53, August 17, 2007

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Paola Espinosa of Mexico proved she will be a real contender of the diving for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The 21-year-old won the gold in the women's 10m platform synchronized and the silver in the 3m springboard on Friday in Bankok when China dominated the diving competition in the Universiade.

"She has improved significantly since the Athens Olympics in 2004. I think she'll be a real challenge to China in Beijing next year," Chinese Universiade diving manager Bai Yongzheng said.

Espinosa led in the preliminary and semifinals in the 3m springboard before she lost to Olympic silver-medalist Lao Lishi of China in the final. But she led all the way towards the synchronized gold, for which not a single Chinese diver compete.

"I hope to win medals in Beijing next year. The Chinese divers are definitely my toughest opponents," Espinosa said.

The Mexican finished fifth in the 10m platform synchronized and 12th in the 3m springboard in Athens Games.

She won three gold medals in the 2007 Pan American from the 3m springboard, 10m platform and 3m springboard synchronized, and already qualified for the Beijing Games, her coach Ma Jin from China said.

"She does have improvement, but she is inexperienced and unsteady. That is the reason why I tell her to compete here though she has a really tight schedule," the Ma said.

Ma began to train Espinosa in 2003 and now she is the head coach of the men's and women's national diving teams of Mexico.

"She didn't like diving at first. She was afraid of that. And she was such an inturned girl that we didn't get along with other at the start.

But we found the way to get rid of her fear. The somersault and twist are not such a frightened thing as we watch. She began to practise hard and enjoyed it. Now we are like mother and daughter, " the 39-year-old Ma said.

"I attribute my success to my Chinese coach," Espinosa said.

Espinosa was the only diver that the Chinese paid attention to during the Universiade though DPR Korea brought the entire national team here and Russia, Ukraine having some of their top divers.

"She didn't play her best in the final. I'd watched her in several competitions before. The worst thing for her is that she always makes mistakes in the final," Lao said.

"The more I compete, the better I am," Espinosa said. "I was stupid in losing the final. I just couldn't concentrate."

With one year out for the Games, Espinosa still has enough time to be a star in Beijing.

Source: Xinhua

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