Donie soars to heights Scoggin flops to depths

August 05, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

BARCELONA, Spain -- A tale of two American divers.

One left with a silver medal. The other retired the Olympic blooper award.

Yesterday, Scott Donie, 23, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., overcame a career blighted by injuries to win the silver in the men's 10-meter platform at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

"A lifetime came down to a two-second dive," he said.

But it was Donie's teammate, Matt Scoggin, 28, of Austin, Texas, who made the bigger splash.

Scoggin had a slight problem while trying to execute a back 3 1/2 tuck.

He fell out of his tuck, couldn't see the water, flailed like a turtle turned upside down, and did a back flop on worldwide television.

Call it a no-score, no-dive, which dropped him from sixth to 10th.

"It was definitely agony, and it was definitely defeat," Scoggin said.

As expected, China's Sun Shuwei, the 16-year-old world champion, won the gold with 677.31 points, earning four perfect 10s on his last dive. Sun's teammate, Xiong Ni, the 1988 silver medalist, settled for the bronze with 600.15.

Slipping between the two Chinese divers was Donie, who scored 633.63.

"I came out of nowhere," Donie said.

A broken foot and an operation to remove a cyst on his wrist sidelined Donie for most of 1990. He still has chronic pain in his wrists, and competed with a sore back.

"I really don't know what I just did," Donie said. "It's a lifelong dream, a lifelong achievement. I have been dreaming about this since I was 8 years old. It's just impossible to put into words right now. I don't even know if it's sunk in that I made it to the Olympics yet. It will take a while for this to hit me."

The medal helped the United States salvage what had been a subpar Olympics, the first in the post-Greg Louganis era. Mark Lenzi won a gold on 3-meter springboard and Mary Ellen Clark took the bronze on women's platform.

The three medals matched the U.S. output at the 1972 Munich Games.

"I knew we were having a poor Olympics by U.S. diving standards," Donie said. "But I knew that Matt and I had the ability to medal."

It was the seventh dive that divided the Americans. Donie superbly executed his reverse 3 1/2 tuck and Scoggin did not.

"I was thinking gold medal all the way," Donie said.

Scoggin was just trying to survive.

Once his left hand slipped off his left leg, he was out of control, and looking for a soft spot to land.

"I was just trying to figure out where the water was," he said. "But I got completely lost. There is always that split second before you hit, you don't know where you are."

Despite a welt on his back, Scoggin completed the competition, and was the first to congratulate Donie.

"I came here to give it a shot," Scoggin said. "All athletes know they take a risk whenever they put themselves on the line."

The risk taken earned one man a medal, and the other a place in video history.

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