Imbeau-Dulac, Gagne add gold to Canadian diving medal haul in Calgary
Canucks earn 2 gold, 2 silver, bronze Saturday at Grand Prix event
Canadian divers Francois Imbeau-Dulac and Philippe Gagne battled through travel fatigue to win gold in men's synchronized springboard Saturday at a Canada Cup.
Imbeau-Dulac of Terrebonne, Que., and Montreal's Gagne edged China's Luxian Wu and Zongyuan Wang by less than a point in a six-found final at Repsol Sport Centre in Calgary.
"We are incredibly happy for sure, but it's a bittersweet feeling because we know we can get 20 or 25 points higher than we did today," Imbeau-Dulac said.
The majority of Canadian divers in Saturday's finals returned Monday from a World Series event in Kazan, Russia, and two days later arrived in Calgary.
They'd also competed in a World Series in Montreal prior to departing for Russia.
In front of a home crowd
"There's a lot of fatigue for not just the both of us, but the whole team because this is our third competition in a row," Gagne said.
"It's always incredible to dive in front of a home crowd. We love to take the energy of the crowd and put it into our dives. I think that's what helped us today get across the fatigue and be able to do our dives."
The Canadian duo's total score was 396.30 just ahead of the 396.24 posted by the Chinese. British brothers Ross and Jack Hasal were third.
Too much thinking on her last dive cost Jennifer Abel gold in women's individual springboard.
The 26-year-old from Laval, Que., led after each of the first four rounds in the final, but she missed her fifth dive and settled for bronze.
Abel was overtaken by China's Yiwen Chen and Xiaohui Huang, who won gold and silver respectively. Pamela Ware of Greenfield Park, Que., placed fourth.
'I just overanalyzed the dive'
Abel's back two-and-a-half somersault is usually strong, which is why it's the final dive of her program. But judges penalized Abel for her entry that wasn't vertical and clean.
"I just overanalyzed the dive in my head when I was in the air," Abel said. "Unfortunately I didn't live my dive in the present.
"I was analyzing my takeoff and saying to myself 'that was a really good takeoff', but just saying that, it's already too late. A dive is two seconds.
"I was disappointed because of course I wanted to win, but it's a different type of disappointment. It's not like I did really bad. It's just like more 'ah, I was that close."'
Dive Canada chief technical director Mitch Geller said the host team was capable of winning between six and eight medals in Calgary.
Canadian divers collected five — two gold, two silver and a bronze — in Saturday's finals.
Montreal's Meaghan Benfeito and Nathan Zsombor-Murray of Pointe-Claire, Que., claimed gold in the mixed synchronized 10-metre tower, which is not yet an Olympic event. Just four countries competed in it Saturday.
Focused on synchro
Benfeito and Calgary's Caeli McKay took silver in women's 10-metre synchro diving. Vincent Riendeau of Pointe-Claire also earned silver in the men's individual 10-metre tower.
The Canada Cup featuring 120 divers from 19 countries concludes Sunday.
With China's Wei Lu and Yanxin Zhu well out in front after three dives, Benfeito and McKay fended off challenges from Britain and Ukraine by nailing their fourth.
"We were happy with our fourth dive, which is our inward three and a half, which is one dive we've been struggling to do in synchro," McKay said.
"We can do it individually in practice pretty good, but when it gets down to competition it's been a little bit hard. We were able to put that one down in competition today."
McKay, 18, will be the lone Canadian in the women's individual 10-metre tower final Sunday.
Benfeito, an Olympic bronze medallist in 2016, is limiting herself to synchro events in Calgary to preserve her body for next month's World Cup in China.
"It has nothing to do with injury," Benfeito explained. "I thought it was more important to just focus on the synchro here, so I can take a break so I can make sure I'm ready and 100 per cent.
"We've been travelling for two and a half weeks now. If World Cup wasn't three and a half weeks away, I would have done the individual."
Riendeau overcame low marks on his first and final dives with a big-scoring triple from an armstand on his third.
"I did a lot of good things, but I made a few mistakes at the beginning and at the end of the performance," the 21-year-old said.
"I was aiming definitely for the first step of the podium, but still very happy with what I did."