Canadian duo grab diving silver at worlds

Canadians Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel took the silver medal in Saturday's 3-metre synchronized springboard at the world aquatics championships. The medal performance guarantees the duo a spot at the London Olympics.

China claims 1st gold of aquatic worlds

Canada's Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel bounced back from a disappointing qualifying session to take silver in the women's three-metre synchronized springboard Saturday at the world aquatic championships.

The Canadians were eighth after qualifying but got back on track in the final to finish second with a score of 313.50.

China's Wu Minxia and new partner He Zi took gold with 356.40, while Australia's Anabelle Smith and Sharleen Stratton earned the bronze with 306.90.

"In preliminaries we had some problems with our third and fourth dives," said Abel, a native of Laval, Que. "We both made a little mistake and that's why we were in eighth.

"But the objective in the prelims was to reach the final and once we achieved that we knew we had to forget about the prelims and start fresh."

The medal performance from Heymans and Abel also guarantees Canada a spot in the event at next summer's London Olympics.

"To get the medal and earn the Olympic spot for Canada this early really relieves a lot of pressure on us for the next year," said Heymans, a three-time Olympic medallist from St-Lambert, Que. "We are very pleased to (be) through this part of the Olympic selection process with such success."

Meanwhile in qualifying for the men's one-metre springboard, Regina's Reuben Ross finished seventh to move on to the final.

Francis Imbeau-Dulac of St-Lazare, Que., was 25th and didn't advance.

It was Wu's fifth gold medal in the women's three-metre synchronized springboard at the worlds, tying her with Guo Jingjing, her former partner who retired in January after winning six Olympic medals and 10 world titles. Wu's first four gold medals in three-metre synchro were won with Guo.

Wu and He's victory got China started on a possible sweep of the 10 diving medals at the first world championships to be held in the country where diving is one of the most popular sports. China won seven of eight golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and took seven of 10 events at the 2009 worlds in Rome.

Wu and He led after each round of the five-dive final, totalling 356.40 points in front of partisan Chinese fans who endured wilting humidity at the Oriental Sports Center's outdoor pool.

"We had to pull out a personal-best performance and really go for it," said Australia's Stratton, who had left shoulder surgery five months ago that kept her from training with Smith until just two months ago.

Wu and He led by less than 10 points after the first two rounds, but they took control with their third dive and cruised through the last two rounds.

They received a perfect 10 for their last dive, a backward 2 1/2 somersault, executed so well that the water barely rippled as they entered together.

He competed on an injured leg, hurting it in training last week, which cost her two days out of the pool.

China's sixth straight victory in women's three-metre synchro tied the record of consecutive wins in one event, held by the United States, which won the men's three-metre springboard from 1973-91.

In the synchronized events, the top three finishers, along with Britain as the host nation, will earn a spot for their country at next year's London Olympics.