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Diving – Veterans earn medal on their final dive; Canada’s fourth in five Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, August 9, 2016 – Meaghan Benfeito (Montreal, QC) and Roseline Filion (Laval, QC) made a gritty comeback to repeat as Olympic 10-metre synchro bronze medallists, climbing from fifth to third on the second-last dive of the entire competition.

In the tightest and tensest final since 10-m synchro debuted in the Olympics in 2000, the veteran duo scored 336.18 points. Tapping into the bond they have cultivated across their decade together, Benfeito and Filion delivered an 80.64-scoring back 2½ somersaults 1½ twists to capitalize on a missed entry by North Korea’s Kim Kuk and Kim Mi Rae (322.44, fourth).

A comeback bronze for the inseparable duo was fitting. Their Olympic preparation was slowed for nearly two months after Filion broke her ankle in mid-December.

“That’s the reason we cried. That’s why there were a lot of tears of joy,” Benfeito, 27, said. “We’ve had a very hard season, a lot of doubts about if Rosie would be back. I’m ecstatic to win another medal with her.

“It’s more satisfying [than the 2012 Olympic bronze],” Benfeito said. “We started off this year slowly due to Rosie’s injury. I’m a little more proud of this one.”

The pair were seventh in the dive order. Seconds after Great Britain’s Tonia Couch and Lois Toulson (319.44, fifth) hit the water on the final dive, a celebration began.

“We knew when we got back to our coaches that we were in good position for the bronze medal, but I knew that the British were close,” Filion said of those tense minutes. “Waiting to see their final score after their fifth dive felt like forever.”

“This was my last run at the Olympics, so I couldn’t be happier right now with our bronze medal.”

“My first thoughts went to my coach [Arturo Miranda] and my family who was in the stands cheering for me.”

China’s Ruolin Chen won her third consecutive Olympic 10-m synchro gold, as she and Huixia Liu posted 354.00 points. Malaysia’s Jun Hoong Chang and Pandelela Pamg claimed silver with 344.34.

The bronze battle boiled down to steadiness and steely nerves. Benfeito, 27, and Filion, 29, were unmoved when North Korea’s miss meant they would be diving for a medal. and Mexico’s Paola Espinosa and Alejandra Orozco (304.08, sixth) were both set back by misses.

“For the first time I think in my 11 years with Rosie, I didn’t look at the scoreboard,” Benfeito said of the approach to the decisive dive. “So I had no idea where we were. We just went up there and said, ‘we can do this.’ We knew that the other girls were diving well. We had confidence in each other. It is not for nothing that we have been diving together for 11 years. We knew we could get on the podium.”

Benfeito and Filion had satisfactory scores on their first two optional dives, scoring 74.70 on a forward 3½ somersaults and 75.24 for their back 3½ in the fourth round. They also came through the compulsory rounds securely, with back-to-score 52.80 scores that include across-the-board 9.0 marks for execution.

“The fourth dive was a little iffy, that one gives me trouble,” Benfeito said. “But that’s probably the best it’s been.”

Jennifer Abel (Laval, QC) and Pamela Ware (Greenfield Park, QC) compete in the women’s 3m preliminaries on Friday. The semifinal is Saturday, with the final on Sunday. Ware and Abel were the fifth and sixth-place finishers at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Complete results: