Wednesday, Jul 16, 2003
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Australia's Irina Lashko celebrates on the podium after winning the women's 1-metre springboard competition at the World swimming championships in Barcelona on Monday.
Russian-born Irina Lashko, representing Australia, took the 1-metre springboard title at the World swimming championships here on Monday.
No Aussie woman had won a diving event before either at the Worlds or the Olympics. The 30-year-old Lashko had represented Russia when she won the World title in the same event five years ago.
In the only medal event on the second day of the two-week championships, Conny Schmalfuss of Germany took silver and Canada's Blythe Hartley claimed bronze.
"It's a pleasure to do this for Australia," Lashko said. "It's another gold in the Aussies' bag."
Before winning, Lashko suffered in the final, going back and fourth from second to third place in the first four rounds. She broke down crying as she climbed out of the pool victorious.
"I didn't really expect that," she said. "Before the last dive I was third and I thought, `Well, here goes for the bronze.'"
"But it's diving you know and it's possible to come back from nowhere to win."
After two days, Russia leads the medal table with two golds and four overall. Three other countries have one gold each: Australia, China, and Italy.
In men's water polo, two-time defending World champion Spain won its first match, defeating Brazil 10-3 in a Group D preliminary game. In Group A, Croatia and Olympic champion Hungary tied 7-7.
In other matches, Romania beat Canada 10-3, Australia beat Japan 10-2, Serbia-Montenegro drew with United States 5-5, Italy swamped China 15-4, Germany edged out Greece 9-7 and Russia beat Slovakia 8-5.
Men's water polo is considered wide open this year. Five different countries have taken the men's polo title in the Worlds.
While Lashko was busy earning headlines at Barcelona's scenic diving venue, there were problems away from the pool for Australia.
The Aussies announced they have suspended men's coach Brian Sutton because he committed a "breach of team bylaws" by arriving late for training camp in Sindelfingen, Germany.
The team departed from Australia for Europe on July 6 and Sutton, who was granted permission to remain at home a little longer, missed his scheduled flight on July 8.
The team is to arrive in Barcelona on Wednesday.
"He didn't fulfil some obligations and the decision was made," team spokesman David Mason said.
The firing seems sure to upset the Australian team, which is expected to challenge the United States when the pool events start on Sunday.
Besides Sutton, Australia will also be without Petria Thomas and Michael Klim, who have shoulder injuries, and Sarah Ryan, who has opted to remain at home because of her radio career.
Women's 1m springboard diving: 1. Irina Lashko (Aus) 299.97; 2. Conny Schmalfuss (Ger) 296.13; 3. Blythe Hartley (Can) 291.33.
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