FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Wendy Lian Williams did her very best. And it was not enough. Not even close.
Williams -- diver, model and Olympic bronze medalist -- must now find something more to defeat China's best and capture a gold medal on the 10-meter platform at the Goodwill Games.
Williams faces 1988 Olympic champion Xu Yanmei and 11-year-old Fu Mingxia on Saturday. Both divers beat her last month at the China Open in Beijing despite a career-best 456 points for Williams.
'It was a really strange experience for me to do my best ever and not win,' she said. 'Usually that doesn't happen for Americans. I didn't get beat by a little. I got beat by a lot. The winner (Xu) had 498. That's a score I've never contemplated.'
Williams, 23, of Bridgeton, Mo., boosted her confidence by winning the 1989 FINA World Cup title and the U.S. Olympic festival earlier this month. She expects a home-nation advantage to help her chances against Xu, 19, and Fu, the smallest diver in the field at 4-foot-6 and 75 pounds.
'They are phenomenal,' she said. 'But this time we'll be on our home turf, so we're going to be tough.'
Preparations for the Goodwill Games prevented Williams from trying tougher flips and twists off the platform. She will alter her routine this fall in advance of the world championships in Australia next January.
'There has been no time to do all the preparation work to do the new dives,' Williams said. 'You like to do a new dive a few weeks before you throw it in a major meet. The last thing you want on your mind before the biggest meet of the year is a new dive.'
Williams showed mental toughness in winning the Olympic Festival crown at Minneapolis. Her mother Vivian was hospitalized the week before with congenitive heart failure. Although she recovered, Mrs. Williams asked her family not tell Wendy because it might disrupt her concentration. Williams found out in a phone call with her mother the night before she dove.
'That night I was really upset,' Williams said. 'I didn't get to sleep. I knew if I had a bad competition, my mother would never tell me anything again.'
Williams, who studied psychology at Miami (Fla.), has modeled swimwear and said she hopes to have more opportunities in the field after the 1992 Olympics. To get there, she must overcome such rising stars as Courtney Nelson, the NCAA champion and platform rival, coached by U.S. Goodwill co-coach Rick Schavone.
'We haven't been as strong in women's diving as we were several years ago,' Schavone said. 'We could be in a transitional phase. Tower appears to be one of our weaker events right now compared to the Chinese. Can we be ready by '92? Who knows. But they will be throwing the big list (most difficult dives) and one of them could give the Chinese a run for their money.'