(Montreal) A lot has changed since the world’s best athletes competed in the last international diving competition in Montreal in March 2020. First there was a COVID-19 pandemic, then the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and finally a major overhaul of the Canadian team.
Forget Jennifer Abel and Meaghan Benfeito, who decided to hang up their jerseys in November 2021 and April 2022, respectively. years, among others.
The Canadian team that will compete in the Diving World Cup in Montreal this weekend will consist of 10 athletes, including three Quebecers — Vallée, from Beaconsfield, Pamela Ware, from Greenfield Park, and Zsombor-Murray, from Pointe-Claire —, which are relatively unknown to the general public.
Ware, 30, is one of the most experienced divers on the team. As a result, the one who will participate in the individual and synchro 3m event this weekend admits that her role has been called upon to change with her teammates.
“It sure is different; I was the youngest with the team when I started with it (in 2007). Today, I’m pretty much the oldest, except Celina Toth, who’s 31. But I like it,” said Ware, who participated in a practice in front of members of the media on Wednesday before taking part in a scrum poolside at the Olympic Park sports center.
However, Canada will be without one of its finest medal hopes: Quebecer Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu. The 27-year-old Quebecer notably won the silver medal in 3m synchro with Abel at the Tokyo Olympics, despite a broken left foot.
Meanwhile, Citrini-Beaulieu has injured her collarbone and shoulder, and Diving Canada says her rehabilitation process is still not complete.
“She trains, but not in the pool. She is in bad shape. […] We don’t expect to see her again in a competition this season, “said Canadian team coach Mary Caroll, adding that Citrini-Beaulieu was still part of the plans for the Paris Olympics in 2024. .
Very clever, then, whoever manages to recognize the representatives of the maple leaf who will be performing at the pool this weekend.
Moreover, of the Canadian medalists of the diving competition which took place in the metropolis in March 2020, only two are still with the team: McKay and Zsombor-Murray. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the weekend, far from it.
“I would say we are a young team. Some divers could climb on the podium here, as well as at the Worlds in Fukuoka next summer. It will be exciting to watch,” said Mary Caroll, the Canadian team coach who has been with the organization for over 30 years.
“We want to make sure the legacy of Jenn (Abel) and Meaghan (Benfeito) survives this transition period. And now our men are starting to shine on the international stage like Alex (Despatie) did back then. It’s a very exciting time for Canadian diving,” she repeated.
In the absence of China — for obvious reasons — Canada topped the medal table at the Montreal leg of the Diving World Series in March 2020 with eight records (six gold, two bronze), ahead of Russia. This time around, China will be on board, but Russia will not — for other reasons that have been in the news for more than a year.
“The competition this time around will be mostly from Great Britain, Australia and obviously China,” admitted Caroll. I haven’t thought about how many medals we could collect this weekend, but if everyone dives like they are able to do, then we could sneak onto the podium a few times. »
More than 120 divers from more than 20 countries will compete in nine distinct disciplines. This international diving competition will be particularly important for the athletes since it will set the stage for another major event.
All athletes will meet July 14-30 in Fukuoka, Japan for the World Diving Championships. They will then face off in the World Cup Finals which will take place in Berlin, Germany from August 4-6. A competition in which some Canadian divers will be able to participate – provided they do well in Montreal this weekend.
The events will take place from Friday to Sunday at the sports center of the Olympic Park, this time in the presence of China.