Despatie in impressive form going into diving final

Canada's Alexandre Despatie advanced to the final of the men's three-metre springboard diving event Tuesday at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Canada's Alexandre Despatie advanced to the final of the men's three-metre springboard diving event Tuesday at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Despatie, unhappy with his performance in the preliminary round of the competition, put in a solid performance in the semifinal, placing second behind Chong He of China.

Despatie, a 23-year-old native of Laval, Que., finished with a total score of 518.75 points from six dives.

"My head was right and I was very focused," Despatie told CBC Sports. "Tonight is going to be the same objective. Really come in focused, rested up, and do the best I can."

Chong, considered one of the pre-event favourites for gold along with Despatie, posted the top score with 547.25 points, with countryman Qin Kai in third with 508.50. 

The top 12 athletes in the 18-diver field qualify for the finals.

Reuben Ross, a 22-year-old native of Regina, placed 18th overall with a six-dive score of 395.85 and did not make the final.

"It's a huge learning experience," said Ross, who hopes to return for the 2012 Games in London. "It's great to just get the experience of the Olympics and get myself in front of the judges."

The final goes Tuesday morning (CBC, CBCSports.ca  8:25 a.m. ET) when the divers start fresh with a clean slate.

Despatie, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist in the three-metre event, was unhappy after placing ninth in the preliminary round, but told CBC Sports, "I'll make sure I come back stronger [for the semifinal]."

"My point was to forget what happened in the prelims," he said. "I came in this morning and it was a brand new day. Mentally I feel much better than I did yesterday. I came back to priorities and what to think about in the right moment.

"It seems to be working out better for me. Now I go home and forget about the semis."