It was a successful day on the tower for Canadians at the inaugural World Series of diving event in Sheffield, England, on Saturday.
Alexandre Despatie of Laval, Que., won a silver medal in the men's three-metre competition, while Émilie Heymans of Greenfield Park, Que., took bronze.
It wasthe first competition of the new three-stop circuit, which features cash prizes for top performers at each event as well as for top overall divers at the completion of the competition.
Although it's a new event, the World Series will be highly competitive given the participants — only the top eight from the world championships in the individual events and the top six in the synchro events are invited to attend.
In the three-metre event, Despatie was pleased with his finish, despite making errors that cost him the gold medal, won by world champion Kai Qin, who posted 9.0's on each of his six dives in the final for a score of 517.65 points.
"I brought it up a notch in the final," said Despatie, who earned a score of 496.75 to earn the silver medal. "I made two small technical errors that cost me the gold in the end.
"For the next couple of weeks, I plan to correct those details so I can continue to contend for the gold."
Dmitry Sautin of Russia earned a bronze medal with 483.50 points.
Mitch Geller, the chief technical officer for Diving Canada, said Despatie may not have won gold, but he put on an impressive performance nonetheless.
"His precision, height and basic diving virtuosity is all there," said Geller. "The errors he did make are not difficult fixes."
Heymans satisfied with bronze
On the women's tower, China took the top two spots on the podium as Ruolen Chen earned the gold with 433.30 points and world champion Xin Wang followed with 388.00 points.
Heymans followed at third with 356.55 and was generally satisfied with her performance.
"Some dives were very good and others could have been better," said Heymans, who was fifth at the world championships. "I'm happy to be part of this series because I need to compete as much as possible and land five solid dives at each event."
After the competition wraps upin Sheffield on Sunday, the divers will travel to Mexico City next weekend, while the third event of the World Series will be the weekend after that in China.
The 2007 season has featured Canadian divers in the world championships, on the Grand Prix circuit, at the Pan Am Games, at the World University Games as well as at the national championships, and fatigue has become a consideration.
"I've travelled more this year than any year in my life," said Despatie. "We do feel tired. But this series is a great opportunity to promote the sport worldwide and to challenge to the top divers in the world less than a year before the Olympics."