MONTREAL — Quebec diver Meaghan Benfeito lost everything in a fire earlier this year, but recovered some prized possessions on Tuesday as she gets ready to compete in the Tokyo Summer Games next month.
On Tuesday, Benfeito received three replacement Olympic medals for those she lost in a blaze that razed the condo building north of Montreal. where she lived with her partner.
“I didn’t cry right away, but just seeing them made me feel good, it represents all the work and sacrifices that I have made over the past 25 years,” Benfeito said. “So four, five months after (the fire), it gives me the motivation I need for the 50 days left before the (Tokyo) Games.”
Benfeito and her partner, football player Alexandre Dupuis, lost everything when their Mirabel, Que. condo, burned to the ground at the end of January. The 15-unit building was completely destroyed.
“I went through the full gamut of emotions when it happened. But at the same time, with the help and support of everyone around me, I was able to get back to training quickly,” the three-time Olympic medalist said.
“Because of that I’m able to smile today, to get through my training.”
Benfeito, 32, lost her three Olympic medals and two gold medals from the last Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.
On Tuesday, she was able to get replacement medals of the ones she won with Roseline Filion in the 10m synchro at the London Games in 2012, as well as a pair won in the 10m individual and synchro, again with Filion, at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
For now, the medals will be reside at her parents home for safe keeping.
She also thanked for teammate Mélanie Rinaldi, who launched a ‘GoFundMe’ campaign to help her the night of the fire. The crowdfunding campaign has raised $36,900 to date.
She said the money will go towards buying a home for herself and Dupuis and she hopes to be entertain everyone who has helped her once the pandemic is over.
The event at Place Nadia-Comaneci, located just in front of the entrance to the Olympic Park sports center, took place Tuesday with Eric Myles of the Canadian Olympic Committee present.
Diving Canada and the COC had contacted the organizing committees for the previous games to get replacement medals.
“I was surprised people reacted that quickly. I was just like, ‘I just lost everything.’ I didn’t think of calling Diving Canada or the COC for help,” Benfeito said.
Benfeito is now focused on the Tokyo Olympics with 40 days left to iron out the details. She added she was feeling good mentally.
Last month, Benfeito and Caeli McKay of Calgary secured their Olympic spots in the 10-meter synchronized diving event with a gold medal at a World Cup Diving competition in Tokyo.
Benfeito will continue training before flying to Tokyo on July 17, with her first Olympic competition on July 27.
“Of course it won’t be like the other Games; we won’t have a small training camp to adapt to the time shift,” she said. “It will be fast, but at the same time, if there are games, then it suits me perfectly.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2021.
Alexandre Geoffrion-McInnis, The Canadian Press