Meaghan Benfeito captures diving bronze in 10-metre platform

Canadian diver Meaghan Benfeito won her first individual medal at the Olympics with a bronze in the women’s 10-metre platform on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro.

Scores 389.20 points in Olympic final while fellow Canadian Rose Filion places 6th

Meaghan Benfeito dives during the women's 10-metre platform final at the Rio Olympics on Thursday. She won bronze, her first individual medal at the Games. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

By Doug Harrison, CBC Sports

Canadian diver Meaghan Benfeito won her first individual medal at the Olympics with a bronze in the women's 10-metre platform on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro.

The 27-year-old from Laval, Que., earned 389.20 points, while fellow Canadian Rose Filion finished sixth (367.95).

On Aug. 9, Benfeito and Filion won Canada's fifth medal in Rio and defended their Olympic bronze in the synchronized 10-metre platform.

"I've always said that if I became a double Olympic medallist, I would stop diving," Benfeito said. "But I want to continue and my decision (to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Games) had already been made."

China grabbed the first two spots on the podium Thursday, with Ren Qian winning gold (439.25) and Si Yajie (419.40) a silver at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre.

Benfeito is the third Canadian to win an Olympic medal in the individual 10-metre platform, joining Anne Montminy, who won bronze at the 2000 Sydney Games in Australia and Emilie Heymans, a bronze medallist in 2008 in Beijing.

Benfeito qualified ninth out of Thursday morning's semifinals, but took charge early in the final and sat first after her first dive, a back 2½ somersault with 1½ twists, as she did in the preliminary round.

She was aggressive on her jump off the platform, held a tight pike position after her twists and had a sharp entry into the pool. Benfeito received three 8.5 scores from the judges for a total of 81.60, the best of her first 11 dives in the competition.

'Why can't I do this?'

Benfeito's least consistent dive, the back 3½ tuck, wasn't a problem in the final. She was assertive in her kick-out and tightened her arms entering the water en route to a 79.20 to sit in bronze position after three dives.

She followed with an armstand back double somersault with 1½ twists, a dive that had Benfeito asking those around her, "Why can't I do this?" following the semifinals. A new dive this season, she had great rip entry into the pool and scored three 8.0s for a 76.80 total.

Benfeito carried a 10-point lead over Paola Espinosa of Mexico into her fifth and final dive and went on to score 73.60 with an inward 3½ tuck. The only woman who could knock her off the podium at that point was Australia's Melissa Wu.

"I knew that she (Wu) had a lot of points to catch up," Benfeito said. "I knew that she could do it, but at the same time all the girls dove well today. They all wanted to get that medal."

Like Benfeito, the 29-year-old Filion delivered a standout first dive in the 12-women final after qualifying seventh.

She was awarded three 8.5s on an inward 2½ somersault, but her score of 71.40 was kept down because of its lower degree of difficulty, and Filion sat in ninth spot.

By the end of her third dive, Filion had climbed to fourth after recording three 8.5s and 76.50 points on a 3½ somersault. She scored 60.00 and 69.00 with the same dive in the preliminaries and semifinals, respectively.

Filion dropped out of the medal hunt on her fourth dive, the usually reliable armstand back triple tuck, but she misjudged on the kick-out so her feet were pointing too far toward the sky and she over-rotated.

But the 2015 Pan Am silver medallist in the 10-metre platform rebounded on her final dive, picking up three 9.0s and 86.40 points on a back 3½ with 1½ twists and a 3.2 degree of difficulty.

With files from The Canadian Press


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