Filion, Benfeito clinch Olympic diving berths for Canada
The job of qualifying a pair of spots for the Canadian team at the 2012 Olympics is accomplished for divers Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito, but now comes the tougher task of winning a medal.
Benfeito, of Montreal, was seventh and Filion, of Laval, Que., was eighth in the semifinals of the 10-metre tower competition on Wednesday at the world aquatics championships in Shanghai.
It was enough to book two tickets to the London Games for the Canadian team — host China was the only other country to do that — and put both in a good mood heading into the final on Thursday.
"The job today was to qualify the team for 2012, which is done," Filion said on a conference call. "To get a medal at the world championships will be really hard.
"We'll have to do our dives almost perfectly all the time and make as little splash as possible in the water. But we know what we're capable of and we'll do our best."
The diving team has only one medal thus far, a silver in the three-metre synchro event by Emilie Heymans of St. Lambert, Que., and Jennifer Abel of Laval.
It was another day of frustrating fourths for the synchronized swimming team, as Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon of Montreal was fourth in the preliminaries and fourth again in the final of the free solo event. Canada was also fourth in preliminaries for the team free event.
Boudreau-Gagnon was left wondering about the judging after missing out on bronze to China's Sun Wenyan. Natalia Isachenko of Russia won her third gold medal of the week with Andrea Fuentes of Spain taking silver.
"I swam really well," said Boudreau-Gagnon. "I'm wondering how a Chinese swimmer I beat three months ago could get the bronze, but I have no control over that.
"It's disappointing, but my main satisfaction was bringing my performance up a level. I don't have any regrets about my performance and that gives me confidence for 2012."
She said that while the Canadian team has yet to earn a medal, they have planted a seed in the judges' minds that they are medal contenders for London. And they are one of the few teams that did not do the routines they will use at the Olympics, saving what they hope will be spectacular shows for the London Games.
In open water swimming, Richard Weinberger of Victoria finished 16th in the 10-kilomtre event, only 26 seconds behind Greek winner Spyros Gianniotis. The 21-year-old did not earn an Olympic berth, but will have other chances to qualify.
"I'm pretty pleased with my race," Weinberger told the Swimming Canada website. "I was hoping for a top-10 but I achieved most of my goals.
"The finishing sprint was very difficult because the pace throughout was very fast. It was really difficult to get around guys. Great swimmers were falling off because the pace was so brutal."
In water polo, the men's team lost 11-4 to Croatia and are 1-1 in round robin play.