Canada's Benfeito, Filion nab silver in 10m synchro event at diving worlds

Canadian divers Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion won a silver medal in the 10-metre synchronized event at the FINA world championships on Monday in Barcelona, Spain.

Canadian Olympic bronze medallist Richard Weinberger finishes 5th in men's 10K event

Canada's Meaghan Benfeito, right, and Roseline Filion pose with their silver medals at the women's synchronised 10m platform final at the Montjuic municipal pool in Barcelona on Monday. (Gustau Nacarino/Reuters)

Canadian divers Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion won a silver medal in the women's 10-metre synchronized event at the FINA world championships Monday in Barcelona, Spain.

The Olympic bronze medallists finished with 331.41 points.

China's Chen Ruolin and Liu Huixia won the gold, building an unassailable points total of 356.38 by executing five nearly flawless dives.

The silver was a career-best international result for Benfeito and Filion.

"It feels great to get that medal," said Filion. "We've overcome a lot of challenges over the years and to have back-to-back international successes is very rewarding."

Chen's fourth straight world title in this event added to her four Olympic gold medals.

Malaysia's Pandelela Rinong and Mun Yee Leong were 0.27 points behind Montreal's Benfeito and Laval, Que., native Filion to claim bronze.

The Chinese were first through all five rounds while Filion and Benfeito appeared on track for third. But their final twisting dive earned them 81.60 points which tied them with the Chinese for the best dive of that round to overtake the Malaysians.

"After our third dive was a bit subpar we just told each other to dive like we do in practice," said Benfeito. "The last two have been big point getters for us this year so we knew we could stay in the medal mix."

Filion and Benfeito's bronze in London was their first big international success since placing third at the 2005 world championships in Montreal when they were teenagers. They were fourth at the 2007 and 2009 worlds and seventh in 2011.

"We are like sisters," said Filion. "We know each other really well and work well together. We've gone through many challenges in our career and gained some valuable experience. It has allowed us to be consistent at this level for a long time."

It is Canada's second diving medal of the competition and third overall. On Saturday, Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que., and Pamela Ware of Beloeil, Que., took bronze on women's three-metre synchro.

China won two golds Monday with Li Shixin also retaining his men's one-metre springboard title.

The victories re-established China's dominance after Germany had snatched a diving gold the Asian country was also expected to retain on Sunday.

"Our coach has been telling us that once we step down from the podium you start from zero," Chen said. "That's the attitude I have carried forward to help me win so many gold medals."

Chen and Liu never looked back after executing a polished backward pike to take an early lead. They nailed a forward pike with 3 ½ somersaults for a finals-high 82.80 points to almost clinch the title with two dives left.

Chen has won her four world titles with different partners each time. She has had so many different diving mates that when asked to describe them she needed help to remember all their names.

She said her latest partner "is very young but very adaptable, so I find it very easy to work with her."

Chen won her first world title five years ago when she was just 15, the same age that Liu is now.

"I don't have as much experience as the other divers here," said Liu, who is a champion on her world debut. "But I have learned a lot from Chen Ruolin."

China has won gold in three of four diving events so far at Montjuic Municipal pool, with its picturesque views of the Catalan capital.

Earlier, Li scored 460.95 points from six dives after rallying from a poor start to give the world's pre-eminent diving power its fourth straight — and seventh of the past eight — world title in the men's 1-metre springboard.

"The competitors were so strong. That I can win this again, I am just so lucky," Li said. "When I was young my coach gave me a video about the Olympic Games in 1992. I remember I have a dream I can stand in this pool.

"So today my dream came true and I won the championship. I feel this pool is amazing. Actually, Spain is very lucky for me. Since 2005, I have been here seven times. It's like here is a second home town. In China, somebody called me 'King of Spain."'

Four-time European champion Illya Kvasha of Ukraine took silver with 434.30 points, while Alejandro Chavez of Mexico earned bronze with 431.55.

The final was billed to be a battle between Li and Matthieu Rosset of France, who finished 0.5 points behind the Chinese diver in the preliminaries on Saturday.

Rosset entered the fifth round in the lead but blew his entry, allowing Li to take command by completing a difficult inward pike with 2 ½ somersaults for a single-dive highest score of 86.70.

But with Kvasha pushing, Li still had to execute a tough forward pike with 3 ½ somersaults on the last dive to ensure he won.

"My coach told me that I need to control myself," Li said. "I knew that in the last rounds I have the confidence that I can overcome everything."

Rosset, who was aiming for France's first diving medal at the worlds, finished in sixth place.

On Saturday, Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao won the women's three-metre synchronized springboard. The next day, China's run of three consecutive world titles in the men's synchronized 10-metre platform was broken by German pair Sascha Klein and Patrick Hausding.

Canada's Weinberger 5th in men's 10K event

Canadian Olympic bronze medallist Richard Weinberger settled for fifth place after making a "fatal mistake" in the men's 10-kilometre open-water race at the world swimming championships Monday in Barcelona, Spain.

The Victoria native was forced to leave his position near the front of the pack to repeat a turn after missing a buoy, but raced back into contention to finish just seven tenths of a second off the podium.

Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece defended his title in a gruelling and combative race, surging ahead on the final lap to avoid a sprint with Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia.

Gianniotis finished in one hour 49 minutes 11.8 seconds in the waters of Barcelona's harbour.

Five-time world champion Thomas Lurz of Germany finished second, 2.7 seconds behind, and Mellouli was third, 7.4 back.

Weinberger finished in 1:49:19.9 after missing a buoy midway through the race, an error he called "fatal."

"I'm one of the strongest guys out there and I know I could have come first," said Weinberger, who won bronze at the London Olympics last summer. "It's just so disappointing that I made such an amateur mistake and I didn't notice the turning buoy pass on my right."

Meanwhile, Victoria's Eric Hedlin finished 23rd in the 66-swimmer field in a time of 1:49:54.5.

"I didn't exactly get the position I wanted but it's not that I'm disappointed," said the 20-year-old world championships rookie. "From a perfect race you don't really learn very much so I guess I learned quite a bit during that one, mainly things involving pacing."

Mellouli won Saturday's 5K race with an impressive sprint finish and he was at or near the lead for much of this race but Gianniotis took the initiative on the final lap to gain a clear lead of two bodylengths ahead of his chasers.

"I wasn't feeling so good but I picked it up and got in the first places the last lap and I said to myself, 'That's it, go in front and whatever happens happens,"' Gianniotis said. "I'm quite good on sprinting but not like Oussama. ... I knew that if it goes to the end, even if he's more tired than me he's got more speed than me, so I tried to stay in front."

Having skipped the 5K, in which Lurz took bronze, Gianniotis appeared fresher than his rivals.

"I pushed a bit in the last 300 metres to make a bit of a [gap] in case he came really hard," Gianniotis added. "The last 50 metres I've never felt so bad in my life. I was nearly fainting. ... My hands were [shaking].

"My heart was pumping so hard I couldn't keep up with my blood," Gianniotis added. "I just put my head down and swam hard."

While the race began at noon under a searing sun with an air temperature of near 30 degrees C, water conditions were ideal at 25 degrees.

Swimmers completed four laps over the 2.5-kilometre L-shaped course in Barcelona's harbour, as fans watched from the shore.

Lurz lost time early on due to fighting around the buoys.

"It was very bad. And it's always the guys not finishing in the first positions," he said. "I want to swim and not fight. It just costs power. But that's open water."

Mellouli had to fend off some underwater kicks and jabs from Damien Cattin-Vidal of France, who finished fourth, in the final kilometre.

"Every time I tried to move he got super physical, so I couldn't move," Mellouli said.

Gianniotis enjoyed the combat.

"You're going to get hit, you're going to get pushed. It's rough," he said. "It's really hard and hard is what I like."

Gianniotis finished fourth at the London Games and wasn't quite sure if the world title was redemption.

"It's not the same," he said. "But I came here with only 3 ½ months training and I won. After the Olympics I was feeling very bad psychologically but this is sport and I said to myself I wanted to come back."

The London race was held in the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

"The Olympics were a spectacular event but it was in a lake and it didn't feel like real open water," he said.

With Greece still mired in economic crisis, Gianniotis dedicated the victory to his countrymen.

"I wanted to do this at the Olympics and that's why I was upset," he said. "This is for my country, my coach and then people who love and support me. My federation has cried a lot for me and I thank them a lot."

Early in the race, Zu Lijun of China was disqualified for failing to swim around a buoy.

The women's 10K is scheduled for Tuesday.

With files from The Canadian Press