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Feature: Russian diver Pakhalina leaves Beijing with regrets
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08:16, August 18, 2008

Again, Pakhalina failed to fulfil her dream at the Olympic Games.

As same as eight years ago in Sydney and four years ago in Athens, Russia's golden girl Julia Pakhalina was defeated by the Chinese diver again at Beijing Olympic Games. The difference is she is no longer young.

The 30-year-old diving veteran, who claimed a silver in 3m springboard synchro with her partner Anastasia Pozdnyakova on Aug. 10, has expected a gold in 3m springboard. However, she lost to Chinese "diving queen" Guo Jingjing on Sunday's final and took her second silver at Water Cube.

"Certainly I prefer gold, but I'm happy with any medal actually, since it is my last Olympics," said the Russian. "I am satisfied with my performance today."

In fact, the 30-year-old really showed some of her talent in the final. As she collected 398.60 points, which was only about 16 points less than Guo, who poised 415.35. Wu Minxia came the third in 389.85.

Pakhalina, "I really happy about the result, although I know I was very close to the first place."

Taking part in three Olympic Games with no gold, Pakhalina admitted that it really bothers her. "Obviously I'm upset about that, but what can I do?"

"I think Guo is not unbeatable," said Pakhalina. "Competing at home gives her a lot of help."

Diving under the shadow of two generations of Chinese "diving queen" Fu Mingxia and Guo Jingjing, Pakhalina has always been an arch rival in 3m springboard, but she has never stood on the podium of individual event in Olympic Games.

In the 2000 Sydney Games, Pakhalina claimed the gold of 3m springboard synchro with her partner Vera Ilyina and became the Games' first synchro diving champion, but she only finished the fourth in 3m springboard individual, while Chinese Fu Mingxia won the gold and Guo Jingjing took the silver.

In 2004 Athens Olympics, Pakhalina was the runner-up of 3m springboard synchro with Ilyina, while Guo and Wu won the gold. And in individual 3m springboard, the Russian also came third to Guo and Wu to end with a bronze.

"The Chinese divers are always very strong," said the 30-year-old. "I respect them very much. They want to win it all and they work hard."

Born on Sep. 12, 1977, Pakhalina's hometown is Penza, where has an impressive diving tradition. There is a long list of medals for Penza's divers, including Igor Loukashin, 2000 Sydney Olympic champion in women's 10m platform.

Starting the diving practice at eight, the talented attracted world's attention in 1998, when she claimed both the individual and synchro gold of 3m springboard in 1998 Perth World Championships. However since then, she has never won a single gold in World Championships, but collected three silver and two bronze medals from 2001 to 2007 Worlds.

Now at 30, the Russian is still in good form, as she finished second in 3m springboard synchro in all legs of World Series this year, including Nanjing, Sheffield, and Tijuana.

"After the Beijing Games, I will spend more time with my family," said Pakhalina. "I want to go to Disney Land!"


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