Diving 'anchor' Jennifer Abel key to Canada's Olympic medal hopes

Canadian diver Jennifer Abel hopes to win at least one Olympic medal from the two events she will enter in Rio, the individual three-metre springboard and Sunday's three-metre synchronized event with partner Pamela Ware of Greenfield Park, Que.

Olympian sets goal of reaching her 'full potential' in Rio

Jennifer Abel won bronze in the 3m synchro and finished sixth in the individual event at the 2012 Games in London. (Harry How/Getty Images)

By Alexandre Geoffrion-McInnis, Canadian Press

When Jennifer Abel gets on the springboard at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, it will have been 10 years since she debuted on the international diving scene.

In August 2006, when she was 14, Abel won her first medal, a bronze in the three-metre, at the world junior championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"Wow I didn't realize that," Abel said in a recent interview. "Honestly, I've never taken the time to reflect on my career.

"It goes by so fast. We spend so much time travelling and competing that were never think about it. All I know is that we're already at 2016."

That means it is another Olympic year and to mark the occasion, the 24-year-old Laval, Que., diver hopes to win at least one medal from the two events she will enter, the individual three-metre springboard and Sunday's three-metre synchronized event with partner Pamela Ware of Greenfield Park, Que.

National team coach Aaron Dziver knows how important Abel will be to Canada's medal hopes at the Games.

If I win a medal, I want it to come from the hard work I've done the last four years.- Canadian Olympic diving hopeful Jennifer Abel

Traditionally it's our women's team that wins medals for Canada and I think they will keep that going in Rio," said Dziver. "I enjoy working with our national team. And Jennifer, she's really the anchor."

Abel is aware of the medal expectations on her but she said won't worry about it.

"If I win a medal, I want it to come from the hard work I've done the last four years," she said. "My goal is to reach my full potential and then we'll see about the results."

But she certainly feels she can improve on her previous best Olympic result in the individual event, sixth place at the 2012 Games in London.

Abel is coming off a strong season in which she finished tied for second in overall standings with Australian Maddison Keeney, behind Tingmao Shi of China. But Italian Tania Cagnotto and Zi He of China will also be in contention.

"Of course I always want to win, but I'm not far off the leaders and my performances have been consistent," she said. "I just have to work on some small technical details and I'll be ready."

The highlight of the London Games for Abel was winning bronze in the synchronized event with Emilie Heymans, who retired a month later. That opened a spot for Ware. The new pairing kept it going with a silver medal at last year's world aquatic championships.

"It's funny that we're taking the same route with Pam that I did with Emilie," said Abel. "That's why I'm not too nervous about it."

That's good news for Ware, who is going to her first Olympics.

"I know I'll be a little stressed when I get there but the fact that I can count on someone as experienced as Jenn will help calm me down, because I know she's always there for me," said Ware.


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