'Go mommy!' yell the children as older athlete takes plunge


INDIANAPOLIS -- The sport's elders, including a 33-year-old mother of three, and The Kid are in contention for a spot on the Olympic team going into today's women's 10-meter platform finals.

Jill McCambridge, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, with her three kids, Carrie, 7; Colleen, 5; and John Michael, 3, watching and yelling "Go Mommy" from the stands, finished third in Friday's prelims of the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials at the Indiana Natatorium.

Wearing wrist grips and a cumbersome arm wrap to protect her body after an eight-year layoff, McCambridge is in a good position to make the team despite missing two dives. Her 388.26 score will carry over into Saturday's final.

Ellen Owen, 29, of Federal Way, Wash., after a five-year layoff, is the early leader with 416.61. Owen is coached by former University of Miami coach Scott Reich.

Fort Lauderdale's Mary Ellen Clark, 29, a 21-year veteran and national champion, is second with 411.54.

Teammate Jenny Keim of Plantation, Fla., 14, the youngest diver in the field, stumbled to fifth after a "silly mistake" but has an outside shot at one of the two spots. Keim has 372.15, 38.39 points out of second place.

Keim, wearing a protective wrap on a wobbly right knee, forgot to take the wrap off on her final dive, a 3 1/2 inward tuck where she needs the flexibility to bend. She scored 3s and a 2 on the dive which may have hurt her chance of being the youngest woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic team. Keim has a loose kneecap, which eventually will correct itself without surgery.

"It was a dumb mistake," said Ron O'Brien, Fort Lauderdale Diving Team coach.

Said Keim: "Early in the dive I realized I forgot to take it off. I asked Ron to remind me and he forgot, too. It was just a silly mistake."

Keim's knee took an added beating when she was not allowed to use the elevator leading to the platform, which she thought she would be able to.

Still, Keim was not discouraged by her finish. She said she was encouraged to see how many years ahead of her she has in the sport after watching McCambridge, Clark and Owen finish in the top three.

"I have a lot of time," Keim said.

McCambridge -- who became in 1977 the first woman to be awarded an athletic scholarship at Cincinnati -- said she is planning a family outing to Barcelona, if she makes the team.

"I would never compromise my family, they've been too supportive," McCambridge said. "I pile the kids in the car every time I go to train."

McCambridge returned to diving in April 1990 on the suggestion of her former age-group coach.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad