Peter Thach Mai and Éloise Bélanger earn dramatic victories at diving winter nationals
Diving – CALGARY – The opening two events at the 2017 Winter Senior National Championships in diving went down to the wire on Friday with Peter Thach Mai and Éloise Bélanger, both of Montreal, emerging with the gold medal.
On men’s three-metre, Thach Mai upset 2012 Olympian and four-time national champion François Imbeau-Dulac of St-Lazare, Que.
Entering the final round, Imbeau-Dulac was leading by nine points and executed a forward 2 1/2 somersaults with three twists, one of the toughest in the books. He averaged only 5.5’s due to a poor entry. Thach Mai was much more stable with his forward with 2.5 somersaults for 7.5’s.
Thach Mai finished with 417.60 points, Imbeau-Dulac was second at 415.25 and Ethan Pitman of Edmonton third at 390.40.
‘’It was a pretty stressful situation,’’ said Thach Mai, 18, a four-time national junior champion with his second career senior national crown. ‘’My twisting dive is a consistent one for me so I really had to keep focused. To finished ahead of an experienced diver like François is great for me.’’
The women’s one-metre crown was a tight three-way battle between Bélanger, Aimee Harrison of Winnipeg and Mia Vallée of Beaconsfield, Que. All three executed their twisting dive to finish the competition.
Bélanger earned 7.5’s and 7.0’s from the judges on the last dive to finish with 264.90 points, Harrison earned mostly 6.0’s and 6.5’s to take the silver at 264.50 while Vallée totalled 260.70 with her marks ranging from 6.0 to 7.0 for her twister.
‘’I wasn’t following the scores but I had made some errors earlier in the competition so I knew the last dive was important,’’ said Bélanger, 23, with her first senior national title. ‘’The one-metre doesn’t have a big impact on selections but I’ve been runner-up many times at national so it’s great for the confidence to get the win.’’
Competition continues Saturday at the Repsol Sport Centre with the men’s one-metre (prelims at 10 a.m. and final at 1 p.m. – local) and the women’s 10-m platform (prelims at 11:40 a.m. and final at 2:25 p.m.)
Important funding for these championships was received through grant programs from Alberta Sport Connection, City of Calgary Council Strategic Initiatives Fund, and Calgary Sport Tourism Authority.
A detailed schedule, and live results are available at www.diving.ca.
The entire competition will be available through CBC Sports’ livestream:http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/aquatics/video#id=877932099600