Resilience translates into finals berths for divers
Calgary, June 10, 2022 – Rylan Wiens ended up fighting hard on Friday to earn his ticket to the 10-metre final at the FINA Diving Grand Prix – Canada Cup, taking place in Calgary, Alberta. After missing his fourth dive of the semi-final, Saskatchewan native Wiens came back strong to qualify at last, alongside teammate Matt Cullen (Rosemère, QC).
The only Canadian in the first semi-final, Wiens had to settle for 43.20 on his fourth dive on the platform. Yet, he stayed strong and delivered two of his best dives at the very end of day (94.05 and 95.40, respectively), which landed the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games competitor in second place in the group, with a total of 477.55 points.
“The goal was to stay consistent, which I was able to do overall. I was able to recover nicely after missing a dive, I was resilient, and honestly, I’m OK with ending the semi-final like this,” said Wiens, who has previously won gold in this event at both the Winter and Summer National Championships. “Right now, I now want to rest and recover for the finals. Every day is a new day, so I intend to focus on what I have to do next,” commented Wiens.
Australia’s Cassiel Rousseau was the only diver ahead of Wiens in the group, and the Aussie delivered a performance that earned him 497.70 points.
Shortly after Wiens’ performance it was up to Nathan Zsombor-Murray (Pointe-Claire, QC) and Matt Cullen to step onto the board in the 10m semi-finals at the MNP Community & Sport Centre Pool. After qualifying with a solid 444.40 points, Zsombor-Murray had intended to build on his success with 464.85 points.
However, not one to be left out of a good thing, Matt Cullen then became a factor; like Rylan Wiens, Cullen managed to bounce back from a tough dive to lead the group. Cullen – fifth in the preliminaries – snuck up the leaderboard, narrowly edging out Nathan Zsombor-Murray with 467.05 points.
Although he posted the fourth best performance in the semi-finals, it was a bittersweet end for Zsombor-Murray, who would not be able to compete in the final, owing to the regulation of only two qualified athletes per country.
Benjamin Tessier (Blainville, QC) and Carson Paul (Victoria, BC) placed 8th and 11th after the preliminaries, scoring 380.45 and 357.40 points, respectively.
Masterful Mia Vallée
Gold medallist at the Summer Nationals this May, Mia Vallée kicked off the 3m individual event on Friday with confidence that enabled her to swoop into the finals with style.
“I haven’t been able to wear Team Canada colours for a while because of the pandemic, but I knew that if I dove well, I could compete with everybody,” remarked Vallée, who in 2019 joined the University of Miami Hurricanes.
“I wanted to stay calm and not have too many expectations, I just wanted to enjoy my first major international competition,” she added.
After dominating the preliminaries with 314.15 points, the Beaconsfield, Québec, native was full steam ahead. Motivated by a strong start, a score of 329.15 points put her in the provisional top spot heading into the finals.
“I’m very happy with the way I dove today. You always want to do better between the preliminaries and semis, and then again between the semis and the finals, so I’m happy that I was able to get a few more points. I stayed consistent in both rounds. Now that consistency is no longer an issue, I can focus on other details to fine tune my dives,” noted Vallée.
Montréal, Québec’s Pamela Ware also had a successful Friday, placing second in her semi-final group with 315.65 points, just behind teammate Vallée. Ware, an experienced Olympian from both the Rio and Tokyo Games, will join Vallée in the Grand Final.
American Sarah Bacon finished first in the other semi-final with a total of 320.15 points.
Vallée, Ware, and Bacon will compete against American Lily Witte on Sunday; Australia’s Alysha Koloi and Brittany O’Brien have also qualified for the final round, so the competition will definitely be one to watch for premium diving skills and thrills.
“I always approach my finals with the same mindset: it’s back to square one, prelim and semi-final performances don’t matter. So for tomorrow, I have no expectations, and I’m going to focus instead on the things I missed today so I don’t make those same mistakes again,” shared Vallée.
Three other Canadian divers were in action today, and finished in Friday’s preliminaries: Olivia Chamandy (Montréal, QC), Margo Erlam (Saskatoon, SK), and Aimee Wilson (Calgary, AB), placed 7th (264.05), 8th (258.20) and 13th (238.20), respectively.
The FINA Diving Grand Prix – Canada Cup continues on Saturday with the women’s 10m platform final, where British Columbia’s Celina Toth will be in action. Fellow British Columbian Bryden Hattie, as well as Saskatchewan’s Bjorn Markentin will be the ones to watch in the men’s 3m final.
Synchro events are also scheduled to take place, with Hattie teaming up with Margo Erlam in the mixed 3m synchro event. Another dynamic duo of Rylan Wiens and Nathan Zsombor-Murray will join forces in the 10m men’s synchro, and last but not least, Benjamin Tessier and Matt Cullen will dive into action side by side for their exciting synchro event.
In women’s synchro diving action, two Canadian duos will step onto the board for the women’s 3m synchro: Pamela Ware and Aimee Wilson will dive together, as will Margo Erlam and Mia Vallée.
Some 68 athletes from eight countries are in Calgary this weekend to take part in this event, which ends all too soon, on Sunday. Click here for more information about your favourite divers, or to check out the latest results in diving action so far.
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