Road To The Olympic Games

Aquatics·Analysis

Canadian divers ready to perform at super-sized Canada Cup

More than than 130 divers from 22 different countries will be competing in Calgary this week at the biggest-ever Canada Cup. As CBC Sports' Alex Despatie writes, Team Canada's mixture of youth and experience means everything is obtainable for these athletes.

Watch live coverage from Calgary beginning on Thursday at 12 p.m. ET

Canada's Caeli McKay, shown in this May 2018 file photo, will return to compete in her hometown when the Canada Cup event begins in Calgary on Thursday. (File/The Canadian Press)

This week is going to be the biggest-ever Canada Cup — more than 130 divers from 22 different countries will be competing in Calgary to win medals.

With a great mixture of youth and experience on a 22-member Team Canada, everything is obtainable for these athletes.

Meaghan Benfeito, Jennifer Abel, Pamela Ware, Vincent Riendeau and François Imbeau-Dulac highlight the veterans of Canada's team.

This leadership group also began the season strong — at the FINA World Series events in Japan and China last month, Abel won two bronze medals in women's 3m springboard, silver in 3m synchro with partner Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu and two silver medals with Imbeau-Dulac.

"I've had a great start to the season in both individual and synchro events with my partners Melissa and François," Abel says. "It's really encouraging to see that all the hard work I put in during the off-season is paying off.

"I intend to stay the course and to improve on a few technical details at Canada Cup in Calgary so that I'm where I want to be for the world championships in July."

Abel and company are also being counted on to mentor Canada's younger divers, such as hometown favourite Caeli McKay.

The 19-year-old — who has already won two bronze medals in 10m synchro with partner Meaghan Benfeito this season — began her diving career as a child at Repsol Sports Centre, and is excited to be returning during her third full season with the senior team.

"The next four days will have special meaning for me," McKay says. "I trained here at home in Calgary for many years before joining the national team.

"It will be an incredible experience to dive in a senior-level international competition with my family and friends watching on."

Team Canada is already off to a great start of the season after two World Series and now they are looking for more success at home. Standing in their way — as always — is Team China, highlighted by Huan Bowen (14 men's Grand Prix gold medals since 2015) and Ma Tong (double gold medallist in the 2018 world junior championships).

They'll be the main adversary for all the divers but I believe Canada has a strong group of divers ready to give them a fair fight.

Watch live action from the Canada Cup beginning on Thursday (CBCSports.ca, 12 p.m. ET) and catch full coverage on Road to the Olympic Games on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca , 5 p.m. ET).

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