Saskatoon: Gagné & McKay capture Winter Nationals gold
Philippe Gagné, François Imbeau-Dulac, and Caeli McKay secured spots in the 2020 FINA World Cup (Tokyo, April 21-26, 2020) on Friday at the 2020 Winter National Championships in Saskatoon, Sask.
Gagné, of Ville Mont-Royal, Que., led the 3m field from Thursday’s preliminaries scoring 462.5 points, he then gathered a personal best score of 498 in the semi-final round on Friday before finishing with 460.15 in the final round.
“It is pretty exciting. I feel like I’ve been pretty consistent over the three events so I’m really happy with how it all went down over the past two days,” said Gagné.
Despite finishing third behind Cédric Fofana in the final, Imbeau-Dulac secured a spot in next spring’s World Cup team based on his combined score from the prelims on Thursday and semi-final earlier Friday afternoon.
The St. Lazare, Que. native finished the final round with 450.35 points while Fofana set a new personal best with 459.25.
Gagné and Imbeau-Dulac, teammates at CAMO, have already qualified for the 2020 World Cup in men’s 3m synchro.
The 22-year-old Gagné, who finished first in the 3m event at the Winter Senior National Championships in January 2018, admits having gone through the Olympic qualification process prior to Rio has him better prepared this time around.
“At my first Olympic qualification I didn’t really know what to do during the event, it’s such a long event,” Gagné said. “ But now with the experience, I know how to keep my mind off of diving between my dives and get ready for each individual dive.”
Like Gagné, McKay led the women’s 10m field from Thursday’s prelims, through Friday’s semis and took top spot in the final. The Calgary, Alta. native set a personal best in Thursday’s prelims (371.25), took the top spot once again in Friday’s semi-final with 369.25 points and then set a new personal best in the final of the women’s 10m with a score of 385.25.
“I set a PB yesterday and today I beat that PB so I mean it felt really great,” McKay said. “Doing a personal best can never be bad and it’s really exciting.”
Elaena Dick of Edmonton, Alta. finished second scoring 360.25 points while St. Thomas, Ont. native Celina Toth rounded out the Top 3 with 357.15 points.
McKay, 20, will join Olympian Meaghan Benfeito, who previously qualified for the World Cup, in the women’s 10m event.
“I’ve been working my butt off in training and this is something that I’ve been leading to for the past few months and really, really, really working hard,” said McKay. “It was really nice to see that all my hard work is kind of paying off and that I was able to show what I’ve been doing.”
Competition continues on Saturday at the Shaw Centre in Saskatoon with the women’s 3m prelims, men’s 10m prelim as well as the men’s and women’s 3m synchro final.
The 2020 Winter National Championships has 44 of the country’s top divers in action with the 2020 Olympic Games just seven months away. In addition to vying for podium finishes and national titles, this competition is the final opportunity for many athletes to qualify for the 2020 FINA World Cup (Tokyo, April 21-26, 2020). The World Cup is the last chance for Canada to secure Olympic quota spots for Tokyo 2020.
Full results can be found here: http://www.issmembership.com/diving/live/schedule.aspx
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