Diving·CBC SPORTS IN TOKYO

Canada's Benfeito, McKay miss diving podium in painfully close finish

Canadian diving duo Meaghan Benfeito and Caeli McKay narrowly missed the podium in the 10-metre synchronized event at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday in Japan.

10-metre synchronized duo wind up 4th, less than 1 point away from bronze

Meaghan Benfeito carries Caeli McKay on her back following the post-competition press conference. The duo placed fourth in the women's 10-metre synchronized diving event on Tuesday in Tokyo as McKay competed with an injured ankle. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

It was all going as planned at Tokyo Aquatics Centre for the Canadian divers on Tuesday afternoon in Japan.

The duo of Meaghan Benfeito and Caeli McKay was sitting in the silver-medal position with just two dives left in the women's 10-metre synchronized event. 

But on their fourth dive, one of high difficulty, disaster struck. The two missed badly and scored just 51.48 points. They plummeted from second to fifth with only one dive remaining.

Despite a brilliant recovery, executing their fifth dive, the Canadians missed the podium with 299.16 points, just 0.54 behind Mexico in third.

China won gold with 363.78 points while the Americans snagged silver at 310.80.

"I'm in shock. Obviously disappointed. Everyone would be disappointed if they missed a medal by 0.54," said Benfeito, who had won back-to-back bronze medals in this same event. 

"I'm obviously upset with myself for missing that dive. If we put that down it would have been enough."

WATCH | Benfeito, McKay fall to 4th in 10m synchro:

Benfeito, McKay just miss the podium in 10m platform synchro

3 months ago
5:23
Canada's Meaghan Benfeito and Caeli McKay finished 0.54 points off Mexico's third-place score in the women's 10m platform synchronized event at Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 5:23

Benfeito, of Laval, Que., comforted her diving partner after missing the podium. 

"You win some or you learn. It's never a loss. It's never a failure," she said. 

Calgary's McKay, 22, who was competing in her first Olympics and is 10 years younger than Benfeito, cried as she spoke to the media.

"Just to be here right now is a big thing for me. It's been my childhood dream and I moved my life to be right here, right now with her," McKay said. 

"I couldn't jump or walk three weeks ago. Just to be diving, to be here, to be an Olympian now, I'm just super proud."

Benfeito, second from left, and McKay, right, are embraced immediately following the competition. (Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters)

That's right — McKay should have never been competing at the Olympics.

Three weeks ago during training she twisted her ankle badly, tearing ligaments along the side of her foot.

Doctors told her it would take 8-10 weeks to recover. McKay told them she had a flight to Japan in two weeks. 

The doctors gave her a boot to wear around her ankle for support and a scooter that she placed her knee on to push herself around the Olympic village, taking the weight off of her foot. 

She fought through the pain in all five dives. 

"I have never competed through pain like this and I hope I never have to again," McKay said after the competition.

"I'm technically not supposed to be walking without a boot right now."

Benfeito and McKay complete their first dive. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Benfeito looked over at her diving partner, almost in awe, as McKay explained to the media what she's been through the past month.

"I'm extremely proud of this girl. The last month has been difficult. I think we've had a handful of practices together," Benfeito said.

"Not having the practices we were expecting was hard, but she gave everything."

Benfeito and her longtime time diving partner, Roseline Filion, captured back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

When Filion retired following Rio, Benfeito teamed up with McKay.

WATCH | Meghan Benfeito's path to Tokyo:

The Olympians: Meaghan Benfeito

3 months ago
3:07
The 32-year-old diver already owns three Olympic bronze medals. In Tokyo, Benfeito will again compete in both the solo event and the synchro with 22-year-old Caeli McKay. 3:07

The two worked hard together to find chemistry. They were roommates for a while, as Benfeito took the younger diver under her wing to help prepare her for this moment at the Olympics. 

Benfeito, 32, is now competing in her fourth Olympics. She hinted at retirement after today's fourth-place finish. 

"I can't wait to watch this one in 2024," she said, gesturing at McKay.

"I don't know. There are just some good days and then bad days when I want to retire. Today I want to go to 2024. But tomorrow I'll probably not want to go."

As the two left the press area, McKay was in so much pain she hopped on the back of Benfeito.

"This doesn't devalue us at all. We see the value in our journey," McKay said.

Benfeito carried McKay out of the press area as they disappeared down the hallway.

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