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Saturday, July 24, 2004
Olympic-bound have 'something to prove'

Associated Press

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. -- Olympic team members Caesar Garcia and Kimiko Soldati won titles in their specialties Saturday at the U.S. National Diving Championships, their final tuneups before the Athens Games next month.

Garcia won the men's 10-meter platform event on his sixth and final dive, edging Matt Bricker and 14-year-old Thomas Finchum. Garcia scored 625.77 total points to 617.64 for Bricker and 583.47 for Finchum.

Soldati won the women's 3-meter springboard over Chelsea Davis, 515.04-502.23, despite losing several days of training this week after receiving two cortisone shots to treat an injured right shoulder.

Like most of the other Olympic team members, Garcia and Soldati were training through the U.S. nationals in preparation of the Olympics. Diving events in Athens will be held Aug. 14-28.

"I feel like we all have an extra burden on us because we all feel like we have something to prove here because were on the Olympic team," said Garcia, 22, of Baton Rouge, La. "I appreciate the challenge."

Garcia and Bricker later teamed to win the men's synchronized 10-meter platform final over Olympic teammates Kyle Prandi and Mark Ruiz.

Soldati said she was as concerned about her shoulder as her rivals, particularly after finishing third in the qualifying rounds.

"At this point, its just pain management," said Soldati, 30, who lives in Magnolia, Texas. "Its difficult to have confidence that it wasn't going to hurt. I fought hard for every dive today."

Neither Davis nor Sara Hildebrand could match her in the late rounds Saturday.

Hildebrand and Cassandra Cardinell won the women's synchronized 3-meter springboard title over Allison and Kellie Brennan. Hildebrand and Cardinell, the Olympic trials champions.

Finals in the men's 3-meter springboard and synchronized 3-meter springboard and women's 10-meter platform and synchronized 10-meter platform will be held Sunday, the final day of the six-day meet.