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Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Olympic trials champ finished third

Associated Press

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. -- Kimiko Soldati, the Olympic trials champion in the 3-meter springboard, was third in qualifying Wednesday and advanced to the finals of the U.S. National Diving Championships.

Nancilea Underwood finished first with 464.01 points, while Chelsea Davis had 460.65 and Soldati was third with 457.17. The top eight in the a field of 31 advanced to Saturday's finals.

The nationals are the final tuneup before the Athens Olympics next month, with many of the Olympic qualifiers training through the meet to prepare.

Soldati, of Magnolia, Texas, and Rachelle Kunkel, of West Valley City, Utah, will represent the U.S. at Athens in the 3-meter event.

In an upset Wednesday, Kunkel finished ninth and did not advance to the final. Underwood, of Spring, Texas, led Soldati after the quarterfinals, then increased her lead during the semifinals.

Soldati has undergone four major shoulder surgeries in recent years, forcing her to miss several national and international competitions. She won the Olympic trials in the 3-meter springboard and was third in the 10-meter platform event.