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Emilie Heymans of Canada performs to clinch the silver medal in the women's 3-metre springboard diving event on Tuesday. ((Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press))

Canadian diver Emilie Heymans won a silver medal in women's three-metre springboard diving at the World Aquatics Championships in Rome on Tuesday.

A three-time Olympic medallist at 10 metres, Heymans was a surprise to win silver at three metres after placing 10th in the semifinals a day earlier.

The 27-year-old of St-Lambert, Que., won Canada's third medal at the international competition with a score of 346.45.

"I am really surprised," Heymans said. "I worked really hard, but I haven't been competing for a while, so I didn't know how my current conditioning compared to the other divers'."

China's Jingjing won her fifth straight world title, taking the 12-woman field by storm with 388.20 points.

Heymans's highlights

  • 2009: World championship silver, three-metre platform.
  • 2008: Olympic silver, 10-metre platform.
  • 2004: Olympic bronze, 10-metre synchro diving (Blythe Hartley).
  • 2000: Olympic silver, 10-metre synchro diving (Anne Montminy).

Italy's Tania Cagnotto, who scored 341.25 points, had a slightly disappointing result — her third straight bronze-medal finish. She earned Italy's first medal at this year's worlds. 

Though in Monday's semifinal, she came second overall, Canada's Jennifer Abel placed 11th on Tuesday with a score of 265.55.

Guo took her first world title in 2001 and has achieved the same feat in every competition since. The championship takes place every other year.

She's now looking to the 2011 worlds in Shanghai, followed by the London Olympics.

"Yes, I want to take part in the next world championships. I want to take part in the next Olympics," Guo said through a translator. "I want to go on training and always improve."

It's hard to imagine what more she could do. Guo had the highest-scoring dive in four of the five rounds, earning consistent scores  between 8.0 and 9.0. Her only fault, which was slight, was on her fourth attempt when she received a string of 7.5s and a single 8 for a forward 2½ somersault with a twist.

"I'm truly satisfied with my performance," said Guo, the oldest diver in the final. "There's a lot of promising divers in China. Sometimes I ask myself when will they compete better than me."

The 27-year-old, who has won nine world titles in total, is a two-time Olympic champion in the same event.

Heymans's silver marks Canada's second diving medal at the world competition. Alexandre Despatie of Laval, Que., and Reuben Ross of Regina won bronze in the men's three-metre synchro springboard on Saturday.

With files from The Associated Press