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Diving – 18-year-old gains valuable experience as he looks ahead to 2020


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, August 16, 2016 – Eighteen-year-old Philippe Gagné (Montreal, QC), who was the youngest Olympic men’s three metre finalist, finished 11th with 425.30 points on Tuesday.

With the semifinal and final being on the same day, Gagné took a lesson from the mental strain of 12 dives in one day on the sport’s biggest stage. All in all, the day at Maria Lank Aquatics Centre was a rite of passage for Gagné, who showed his potential earlier with a 445.40-point card in the morning semifinal.

Gagné was the first Canadian man other than Alexandre Despatie to compete in the 3m final since Mark Rourke in 1992.

“Just to go into the finals and make my objective come true – make a dream come true – was amazing,” said Gagné, who since 2014 has completed important stepping stones with medals at Youth Olympic Games and Pan Am Games. “For the finals I just tried to have fun. I’m not satisfied with the score I did but I’m sure satisfied that I made the final.

I learned how to compete against the best in the world. Everyone was fighting for the medal, which was really incredible. It wasn’t my best competition ever, but I think that was because the stress was lower than in prelim and semifinal.”

China’s Cao Yaun won the gold with 547.60 points. The podium was completed by Great Britain’s Jack Laugher taking silver in 523.85 and Germany’s Patrick Hausding grabbing bronze with 498.90, both for their first Olympic individual medals.

Gagné had his highest score of the final, 80.50, on his closing reverse 1½ somersaults 3½ twists in the final round. He paused on the springboard to join the crowd’s ovation for the previous diver, Brazil’s 33-year-old Cesar Castro, a four-time Olympian who had just made his last competitive dive.

The young Montrealer was short on the entry on his fifth dive, a reverse 3½, which kept him from getting into the top 10. Gagné was aggressive in the middle stage of the event, earning 73.10 for his third-round forward 2½ somersaults double twist and 71.40 on his fourth-round inward 3½.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep the two nights because of the nerves, but I had a lot of energy today,” Gagné said. “The first few dives, went over vertical because I was so high [coming off the springboard] and didn’t know what to do after that.”

In the semi, Gagné exceeded his expectation of qualifying in the range of between eighth and 12th by placing fifth. His 445.40 total represented a nearly 45-point improvement over his showing in the preliminary round. The jump stemmed from an 86.70 on his forward 2½ somersaults double twists, 84.00 on his reverse 3½, and 78.75 on his closing twister.

I was more nervous in the semifinals because I knew I had an objective and I really wanted to meet that objective,” Gagné said. “It was an amazing experience and I did a really score, not my best, but a really good score for me.”

Meaghan Benfeito (Montreal, QC) and Roseline Filion (Laval, QC) compete in the women’s 10m preliminary at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Their semifinal and final are also compressed into one day, with the semi at 9 a.m. Thursday and the final at 3 p.m.

Complete results: