Babb-Sprague in Sync, Wins Disputed Gold

From Times Wire Services

Kristen Babb-Sprague of Pleasanton, Calif., won the synchronized swimming solo gold medal Thursday after a scoring mistake that Canadian officials said cost their top swimmer the title.

Babb-Sprague defeated world champion Sylvie Frechette of Montreal after scores for their routines had been added to Wednesday's school figures marks.

Babb-Sprague's total was 191.848 to Frechette's 191.717.

Fumiko Okuno of Japan won the bronze with 187.056 points.

An international swimming federation appeals jury upheld one of Frechette's scores from Wednesday's figures, even though the judge who cast the score declared it a mistake.

Ana da Silveira of Brazil, one of five judges, had punched in an 8.7 score but immediately sought to make it higher. An apparent computer malfunction prevented her from doing so and the referee would not allow the change.

The FINA appeals jury let the 8.7 score stand. Although the judge's intended score was not revealed, coaches and administrators involved mentioned figures as high as 9.7.

Pat Murray, past president of Synchro Canada, figured that factoring in the full additional point would have given Frechette a 92.727 for figures and a 191.887 overall score, nipping Babb-Sprague by .039 for the gold.

Frechette was in second place by .251 points after the figures but turned in Thursday's best score, 99.160 to 99.040 for Babb-Sprague.

Frechette was angry but accepted the outcome.

"I did my best," she said. "I cannot change it. The only thing I had to do was swim well today, and that's what I did."

Synchronized Swimming Medalists

* SOLO

GOLD: Kristen Babb-Sprague (United States)

SILVER: Sylvie Frechette (Canada)

BRONZE: Fumiko Okuno (Japan)

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