Feb. 20, 2004
ATHENS, Greece. - In a meet featuring the best divers in the world, Arizona State's Joona Puhakka placed fifth on the 3-meter springboard Friday afternoon while competing for his native Finland at the FINA Diving World Cup at the Olympic Aquatic Center. The sophomore hit all six of his dives in the final round to score a 680.13, a career-best.
Puhakka showed his poise after narrowly making the final round with a 12th-place finish in the semifinals. The fifth-place showing marks his highest finish ever on the 3m in an international meet and the score all but assures him a spot on Finland's Olympic roster.
"The guys at this meet are the ones that are going to be in Athens this summer, so the level of competition doesn't get any better than this," Arizona State diving coach Mark Bradshaw said. "This is huge for Joona because there was double the pressure. He was trying to do well at the meet in addition to the added pressure of trying to earn a berth on Finland's Olympic squad."
Puhakka has seen enormous diving success in the past year. He was named the Pac-10 Diver of the Year and diving Newcomer of the Year in 2003 after winning both boards at the Pac-10 meet and claiming a NCAA title on the 1m. Last summer at the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, the Finn placed third on the 1m to earn a bronze medal and his country's highest diving finish ever. He will resume action at the Pac-10 Diving Championships February 26-28 in Federal Way, Wash.