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Diving – Eighteen-year-old handles challenging conditions in Olympic debut

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, August 15, 2016 – In his Olympic debut, 18-year-old Philippe Gagné (Montreal, QC) performed his two twisters ably and advanced to the men’s three-metre semifinal.

The gusty conditions at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre set back some of the world’s best experienced divers, but Gagné fought through it to place 12th in the preliminary round with 400.75 points. The teenager delivered when it mattered, getting his second-highest score of the day with a 78.75-scoring reverse 1½ somersaults 3½ twists in the final round. Gagné also garnered 73.10 for his forward 2½ somersaults double twist. The teen’s highest score was 79.05 on his second dive, a forward 3½.

Gagné will be seventh in the dive order for the semifinal on Tuesday at 9 a.m. EDT. The top 12 semifinalists advance to the 5 p.m. final.

The conditions were not ideal today, so I am happy I was able to qualify for my first Olympic semifinal,” Gagné said. “There was basically no wind during our training so no one was prepared for this. However, we had some pretty windy days during our training camp in Brasilia, so that helped for sure.

Coming top-12 today really encourages me for [Tuesday’s] semis.”

China’s Yuan Cao (498.70), Mexico’s Rommel Pacheco (488.25) and the United States’ Kristian Ipsen (461.35) grabbed the top three spots. Defending Olympic champion Ilya Zakharov (389.90) had to rally to grab the last semifinal berth after three misses in a row, and 2015 world champion Chao He (380.35) missed the cut.

Gagné made sure not to get drawn into obsessing over his next dive.

The prelims were really long but I watched Netflix in between rounds to keep me busy,” Gagné said.

On Tuesday, Gagné will look to be sharper on his fourth and fifth dives. He received 56.10 points for his inward 3½ somersaults and 50.75 on his reverse 3½. That said, he was close to the 407.20 total he posted at the World Cup meet in Rio in February.

Complete results: