Road To The Olympic Games

Heymans wins silver in 10-metre platform

Canadian diver Emilie Heymans turned in her best-ever individual Olympic performance, capturing a silver medal Thursday in the women's 10-metre platform in Beijing.

Canadian diver Emilie Heymans turned in her best-ever individual Olympic performance, capturing a silver medal Thursday in the women's 10-metre platform.

Heymans, who hails from St-Lambert, Que., secured her second-place standing with a stellar fifth and final dive at the National Aquatics Center, for a total score of 437.05.

"I'm just really happy. It's hard work for my entire life that came through now," Heymans told CBC Sports after matching fellow Canadian Alexandre Despatie's showing in men's springboard. "I trained really hard for this and I'm just really happy that I finally get a medal in my individual event.

"I think my training was going really well and I was able tonight to stay focused on what I had to do, and not stay focused on my result or on how the other divers were doing. I think that was the big key."

Heymans bested her fourth-place finish at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens and fifth-place showing in Sydney in 2000 to earn Canada its 14th medal in Beijing.

Fellow Canadian Marie-Eve Marleau of Laval, Que., finished seventh Thursday in the field of 12 with a score of 332.10.

China's Chen Ruolin, the world No. 1 who qualified first for the final, won the event with 447.70 points, followed by teammate Wang Xin (429.90). That gave the host team its seventh diving gold of these Olympics, setting up a potential sweep leading into the men's tower Saturday.

Mexicans Paola Espinosa (380.95) and Tatiana Ortiz (343.60) rounded out the top five.

Heymans had noticeably more muscle definition in Beijing than she had at trials almost two months ago in Victoria.

"I lost a few pounds, not much, three or four, but I think it made a big difference for me today," she said. "I was a little lighter, so it was a little easier for me to make the dives."

Heymans was second heading into her final dive of the individual event in Athens, and missed what had been her bread-and-butter final dive — a 2½ back somersault with 1½ twists — to drop to fourth.

She was devastated after her performance in Greece, and said "I choked" after the event.

Heymans put in extra time over the last year with sports psychologist Penny Werthner to improve her mental toughness.

Not only did she not miss Thursday, but Heymans generated big scores to put real pressure on Chen.

"I think it's what happened in the past that made the person that I am today and made me dive like this today," she said, "so I don't regret anything."

The 26-year-old joins Caroline Brunet, Phil Edwards, Leslie Thompson-Willie and Karen Cockburn as the only Canadians to win at least three medals in three consecutive Games.

Diver joins elite group

Heymans's performance in the final gives her three career Olympic medals to go with a bronze and silver in the 10m synchronized event at Athens and Sydney, respectively.

Is there anything else to accomplish after three medals at three straight Olympics?

"I'm just going to enjoy the moment and think about the future later," said Heymans.

Heymans, who recovered from a poor third dive in the semifinals to qualify fourth, also improved in the latter stages of the final.

After missing her third dive — the back 3 ½ somersault — she cemented a podium finish with a pair of 9.5s and one 9.0 on the inward 3½ somersault-tuck, scoring 99 points to rank first overall by 7.15 points.

Heymans stuck with the inward 3½ somersault-tuck for her final dive, a terrific effort that resulted in one 9.5 and two scores of 9.0.

She led after her fifth and final dive but was bumped to silver by Chen, who finished off the competition with a near-perfect dive that earned a score of 100.30, including four perfect 10s.

"I was a little surprised [that I was leading], but I was sure that it was really close," said Heymans. "I knew that the Chinese [diver] had a really good last dive and she could do it for 10s most of the time."

With files from the Canadian Press