PERTH, AUSTRALIA, JAN. 4 -- Fu Mingxia, a 12-year-old from China who was kicked out of a school gymnastics program at age 8 because she was getting too old, beat much older, more experienced opponents to win the women's platform diving title at the World Swimming Championships.

Fu finished with 426.51 points. Elena Miroshina of the Soviet Union won a tight race for second with a spectacular final dive to total 402.87, and American Wendy Williams (400.23) took third when Olympic champion Xu Yanmei of China faltered in the late rounds (399.12).

Fu, platform champ at the 1989 Goodwill Games, was the youngest entrant in any event in the 19-year history of this meet, and thus the youngest world champion. The world body of aquatic sports, FINA, voted this week to place a 14-year-old age limit on future Olympics, world championships and World Cup meets, but Fu will be eligible for the 1992 Olympics because of a loophole. "She would be a phenomenal diver no matter how old she was," Williams said.

Edwin Jongejans of the Netherlands, who finished eighth in the three-meter diving at the 1988 Olympics, topped the men's diving preliminaries for Saturday's finals (top 12) with 573.78 points. Chinese divers were second and third -- Wang Yijie at 571.11 and Tan Liangde at 563.34. America's Mark Lenzi was fourth with 555.90 points despite tendinitis in his left ankle that hurt every time he bounced on the board. Mark Bradshaw, U.S. diver of the year, was sixth at 543.81.

The United States scored a big upset in women's water polo, beating defending champion Australia, 8-7. Margo Miranda gave the United States an 8-6 lead with 4:10 left. Australia scored one minute later.