Sagamihara: Canadian divers capture two out of a possible three medals
It’s a new season, but Canada’s divers picked up where they left off.
Jennifer Abel and Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu won a silver medal in the women’s 3m synchro springboard while their teammates, Meaghan Benfeito and Caeli McKay, picked up a bronze in the women’s 10m synchro platform on Friday at the FINA Diving World Series in Sagamihara, Japan.
“It’s been a really long off-season for us,” said Abel, from Laval, Que., “Usually we always compete so we know exactly where we are and what we have to improve but now since we didn’t compete since June, I didn’t know if I was doing well, I didn’t feel as good as I feel right now so it was pretty hard mentally to manage that.”
While the team did have Winter Senior Nationals in December, the last major international competition was the FINA Diving World Cup in early June of last year.
That’s almost a nine month layover.
“Now that I’m here with the girls I’m really happy to see where I am,” said Abel, 27.
Citrini-Beaulieu, 23, spoke to the consistency they have as teammates, “I think it’s clear between us we want to do well and be the best team but I don’t think there’s pressure because we know that the other person will do everything possible to make it happen,” said the native of Saint-Constant, Que.
The Canadians finished with 302.97 points for the silver medal, behind China’s Tingmao Shi and Han Wang who scored 330.00 points.
Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith of Australia were third with 301.83 points.
On 10m platform, Benfeito, 29, and McKay, 19, finally cashed in on what they’ve been working on for two years.
“This year we made it a goal to really just focus on ourselves and I think that’s what’s really helping us perform better,” said Laval’s Benfeito, “It was really the first competition that I was able to really focus on my own dives and not have to worry about Caeli, so that was something that I really enjoyed and now that I know that it works it’s something that we’re going to work on even more next week.”
The Diving World Series season continues straight away with the second event in Beijing, China March 7 to 9.
And although it was the season’s opening event, Calgary’s McKay said she was able to keep the jitters under wraps, “I always get caught by surprise in competition with the nerves, I always feel like I’m more prepared but the nerves are still there but it’s a good thing, today was good with Meg, we had nerves but we were positive and able to focus on what our corrections were and pull through.”
The Canadians scored 311.70 points, good for third, while Wei Lu and Jiaqi Zhang of China won the competition with 340.44 points. A Rim Kim and Mi Rae Kim of People’s Republic of Korea were second with 319.50 points.
In the men’s 3m synchro springboard, Philippe Gagné, of Ville Mont-Royal, Que., and François Imbeau-Dulac, of St-Lazare, Que., were fourth-place with 416.37 points.
Day 2 of the FINA Diving World Series will turn McKay and Benfeito to adversaries in the women’s 10m platform, while Gagné and Imbeau-Dulac will do the same in the men’s 3m springboard.
Later Benfeito and Nathan Zsombor-Murray, of Pointe-Claire, Que., will team up in the mixed 10m synchro platform.
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