Puhakka Finishes Third On 1M At World Championships
July 17, 2003
BARCELONA, Spain. -- Arizona State men's diver Joona Puhakka earned a bronze medal in 1-meter diving at the FINA World Championships this afternoon at the Piscina Municipal Montjuï¿½c. The sophomore-to-be, competing for his native Finland, earned his country's first ever diving medal at this level by recording a 391.26 in the final to finish behind the Chinese duo of Xiang Xu (431.94) and Kenan Wang (412.41).
Puhakka finished second in his semifinal with a 389.22 after earning a No. 3 seed after the preliminaries with a 375.69. Russian Alexander Dobroskok, who won the 3-meter World title two days ago, placed fourth on the 1-meter after finishing second in the prelims, and winning his semifinal.
Puhakka's remarkable year saw him garner numerous awards and titles during the collegiate season before proving himself on the senior international stage. The only other men's diver in Arizona State history who has had comparable success on the world level is Bernie Wrightson, who won a gold medal on springboard at the 1968 Olympics. Leading up to the World Championships, Puhakka spent much of his training time in Tempe with ASU head diving coach Mark Bradshaw, named the NCAA Diving Coach of the Year after leading the Finn to an NCAA title on the 1-meter as a freshman.
'Joona has had a really long season and he was really tired,' said Bradshaw after Puhakka secured the bronze. 'I hoped that going home to train with Finland would spark up his spirits a little bit and I think it did. This is great for the overall program and it's a wonderful accolade for him at the world level. Hopefully we can use this as a jump into next season and next summer in Greece.'
In addition to his NCAA title on the 1-meter in 2002-03, Puhakka recorded Pac-10 and Zone E titles on both the 1-meter and 3-meter, was named the Pac-10 Diver and Newcomer of the Year and broke three school records.
Several present and former Sun Devils are still to compete in Barcelona when the swimming portion of the Championships begin on Sunday. Current ASU student-athletes slated to swim are Ahmed Hussein (Egypt), Petra Banovic (Croatia), Florencia Szigeti (Argentina), David Kolozar (Hungary) and ï¿½gnes Kovï¿½cs (Hungary). Former Arizona State swimmer Pablo Abal is also participating in the 10th edition of the FINA World Championships.