China's He Zi practices diving ahead of the women's 3-meter springboard diving preliminary round in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Wong Maye-E
August 12, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Looking to bounce back from the disappointment of missing out on a synchronized diving medal, Jennifer Abel of Canada led the way in the preliminaries of women's 3-meter springboard Friday.

Abel topped the favored Chinese with a five-round score of 373.00 points. He Zi was right behind at 367.05, followed by teammate and reigning world champion Shi Tingmao at 357.55.

The top 18 advanced to Saturday's semifinals, where the field will be culled to 12 divers for the final.

Abel had a shot at a synchro 3-meter medal, but a botched final dive left the Canadian team less than a point off the podium.

She's looking forward to challenging the mighty Chinese.

''I know I can do it,'' Abel said. ''I've competed with these girls many times, and I know what I'm capable of.''

The Chinese are hoping for a rebound of their own, having settled for bronze in the men's springboard synchronized event. That cost the diving powerhouse a chance to sweep all eight events.

China has won women's 3-meter springboard at seven straight Olympics, one short of the eight consecutive titles won by the United States from 1920-56.

He is taking Abel's challenge seriously.

''All of the divers from other countries are improving really fast,'' she said. ''This creates healthy competition, which is a positive thing for us. It gives us the urgency to train harder.''

A morning practice session was called off so officials could work to clean the green-tinged water. The color appeared closer to normal during the competition but was still a bit murky.

Italy's Tania Cagnotto, coming off the first medal of her long career, ranked fourth at 347.30, followed by Australia's Esther Qin (347.25) and Abby Johnson of the United States (333.60).

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .

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