Canada wins gold in front of home crowd
MONTREAL – Canada was golden tonight in Montreal.
Veteran Meaghan Benfeito and prodigy Nathan Zsombor-Murray capped the night by winning the mixed 10m synchro platform in front of a roaring home crowd, on Day 2 of FINA Diving World Series #3.
And to add to the celebration, it was Zsombor-Murray’s 15th birthday.
With all of that, the native of Pointe-Claire, Que. admitted to being nervous in the beginning, “It didn’t feel like an event at first because I’m at my home pool and it feels like I’m just training,” said Zsombor-Murray, “But I started to get a little nervous when the event started.”
Benfeito, a three-time Olympic medallist and 29 years-old, noticed her younger teammate appeared grumpy during the first two dives, so she told him to let loose and enjoy the moment.
“The key was to really try to make him realize that he needs to have fun to dive well,” said Benfeito, who added that Zsombor-Murray may have finished the competition better than she did.
The Canadians scored 322.08 points, edging Mi Hwa Kim and Il Myong Hyon of the People’s Republic of Korea who turned in 320.58 points. Iuliia Timoshinina and Nikita Shleikher, of Russia, placed third with 299.82 points.
“This crowd was really loud, there were a lot of people, it caught me by surprise a little bit today I’m going to be honest,” said Benfeito about the fans at Montreal’s Olympic Park, “It was absolutely amazing to finally dive well in front of a home crowd like that.”
It was Benfeito’s second medal of the day, she also won bronze earlier in the women’s 10m platform (354.65 points), surpassed by winner Qian Ren, of China, who scored 395.85 points. Yajie Si completed the 1-2 punch for China by taking the silver medal with 377.65 points.
Victoria’s Celina Toth did not advance out of her semifinal, and was 11th (293.15 points).
“I’m really, really happy with just the fact that I was able to compete properly,” said Benfeito, who battled injury at the first two Diving World Series events.
“To come away with bronze really shows that I can be part of the podium.”
In the men’s 3m springboard, two Canadians made the final with Olympians François Imbeau-Dulac, of Saint-Lazare, Que., finishing 5th (448.45 points), and Philippe Gagné a spot behind with 430.55 points.
“My main goal was to make the final so I was really happy with that,” said Montreal’s Gagné.
His preliminary was so good that he and coach, Aaron Dziver, decided to add a newer dive to the final, a front four-and-a-half.
Gagné, 20, thinks they may have made a mistake by placing it last, distracting him throughout the competition.
“I feel like I can learn a lot from this experience maybe not to put the dive last and how to do the dive under pressure,” said Gagne.
The third and final day of Montreal’s FINA Diving World Series will feature Pamela Ware and Jennifer Abel in the women’s 3m springboard, while Vincent Riendeau will contest the men’s 10m platform. Abel and Imbeau-Dulac will then team up in the mixed 3m synchro springboard.
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