Indiana's Loukas Earns Spot on U.S. Olympic Diving Team
June 21, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Years of hard work paid off for rising Indiana University senior Christina Loukas as she placed first in the three-meter springboard competition at the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials at the IU Natatorium, earning a spot at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Consistency was the key for Loukas, who entered Saturday's finals with a 48.45 lead over Nancilea Foster. Averaging a score of 9.0 on her final of five dives, Loukas took home the title with 1092.10 points, 89.25 points ahead of Foster.
"This was a long week, having to go through three lists of dives and I give her a lot of credit for hanging in there," said IU head diving coach Jeff Huber. "She really stepped up to the occasion. When you are in first place heading into the finals, you know you are capable of winning but you still have to go out there and perform. It is great to see another Hoosier make an Olympic team."
"Right now I just can't believe it has happened," Loukas said. "The entire time I have been focusing on the process and not the outcome which really allowed me to perform well."
In addition to her coaches, Loukas was cheered on by a large group of friends, family and teammates who made the trip to Indianapolis.
"I had way too much support out there and it was awesome," Loukas said.
On Wednesday, Loukas carried the momentum from the morning prelims into the evening semifinal as she increased her lead by 18.80 points with a two-round total of 729.85, 48.45 points ahead of Foster (681.40). Her solid semifinal performance was capped off by a spectacular fifth dive where she recorded 79.50 points on a forward 2 1/2 somersault 1 twist pike. Loukas received a 9.5 from one judge, three scores of 9.0 and three scores of 8.5.
Loukas took the lead in the morning prelims with a score of 370.80, 29.65 points ahead of Ariel Rittenhouse. Foster finished third in the morning session with 333.80 points.
Loukas' five dives in the prelims earned her a total of 345.80 points, but she gained 25 additional bonus points for her performance at the 2008 World Cup in Beijing where she finished fourth on the three-meter. Loukas picked up 72 points on her third dive, a back 2 1/2 somersault pike with six scores of 8.0 and one 8.5. She was awarded one score of 9.0 on her second dive, a forward 3 1/2 somersault pike with a 3.1 degree of difficulty. Loukas was the only diver to score more than 60 points on all five dives.
Up next for Loukas is the Olympic team selection camp, July 2-6 in Knoxville, Tenn. While she already earned a spot on the team in the three-meter by virtue of her victory today, Loukas will also try to earn a place on the Olympic team in the three-meter synchronized event at the camp.
Indiana graduate Cassandra Cardinell will compete in the platform final on Sunday as she enters the finals in third place. While only the winner of the platform event will secure a spot on the team, Cardinell will also have a chance to secure a bid based on her performance both at the trials and the selection camp.
This is the third-straight Olympic games where Indiana women's diving will be represented. Sara Reiling-Hildebrand competing in 2000 and 2004, and Cardinell and Kimiko (Hirai) Soldati earned spots at the 2004 games.
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