Canada’s Abel and Imbeau-Dulac win mixed syncro bronze at world championships

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Canada’s Jennifer Abel and Francois Imbeau-Dulac won a bronze medal in the mixed synchro three-metre event on Saturday, the final day of pool diving at the FINA world championships.

The pair medalled in every event they entered this season, including three silvers and a bronze from the elite Diving World Series, yet even after earning her third medal of FINA Worlds, Abel wanted more.

“We are really happy to be on the podium,” said the 25-year-old Abel. “But we also are not quite pleased with the colour of the medal.”

The two Canadians combined for a score of 297.72 points, below their season-best (at a Diving World Series) of 326.16 points from Guangzhou, China in March.

China’s Han Wang and Zheng Li won the event with 323.70 points. Britain’s Grace Reid and Tom Daley took the silver medal with 308.04 points.

It’s been a long competition for the divers, spanning nine days. Saturday’s event was one more chance for Abel and Imbeau-Dulac to dig deep and perform,

Abel, a native of Laval, Que. captured a bronze medal in her individual springboard event on Friday night. Earlier in the competition she won a silver medal with Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu in the women’s synchro three-metre.

Abel now has eight world championship medals, the most for a Canadian woman in the sport of diving. It also matches retired Olympian, Alexandre Despatie, who also has eight medals, on the men’s side.

“She must be very proud,” said Imbeau-Dulac, who is from St. Lazare, Que. “I am so, so proud of her, and how the competition went for us.”

Also Saturday, Daley captured his first individual medal at the world championships since 2009 with a thrilling victory over reigning Olympic champion Chen Aisen.

Chen, diving just ahead of Daley, put the pressure on in the final round with a brilliant reverse 2 1/2 somersaults with 2 1/2 twists, barely making a ripple as he sliced through the water to receive four perfect 10s from the judges and nothing lower than a 9.5.

But Daley, facing away from the pool, launched himself off the tower for an equally dazzling back 3 1/2 somersault pike. He released his legs, spotted the water and manoeuvred his body into a perpendicular position for scores that matched Chen, including four 10s.

“Seeing Chen do his dive — I saw him in the water and thought, ‘Oh yeah, so that’s how you want to play. I’m here to play too,’” Daley said.

The winner led after all six rounds and finished with 590.95 points. Chen was next at 585.25, while his teammate Yang Jian settled for the bronze at 565.15.

Daley was one of the platform favourites at the Rio Olympics and led after the preliminaries. But he stunningly failed to advance to the final when he finished last out of 18 divers in the semifinals, with a score that was nearly 170 points worse that the prelims.

Chen threw down a towel in disgust when he realized Daley had pulled out the victory.

“When I saw my points after my last dive, I thought, ‘I did it, I’ve got first place, I’m the world champion,’” Chen said. “And then when Tom got exactly the same points as me, I thought, ‘Well, it’s a bit disappointing, but we all did our best.’ What I have to do now is improve myself even more and maybe get first place next time.”

China again dominated the diving competition, finishing with 15 medals overall — three times as many as runner-up Russia — but came up short of its 10 gold medals in Kazan two years ago.

The Chinese also took a synchronized swimming gold in the women’s team free. Ukraine settled for silver and Japan claimed the bronze. Russia, which has won six synchro swimming golds at the championships, did not enter a team.

But Russia took the gold in the final synchro competition — its seventh in nine events at worlds — when Aleksandr Maltsev and Mikhaela Kalancha won the mixed duet free routine, a relatively new, non-Olympic event.

Italy’s Giorgio Minisini and Mariangela Perrupato claimed the silver ahead of Bill May and Kanako Kitao Spendlove, who claimed their second bronze of the event for the United States.

The sport known its hair gel, glittering uniforms and over-the-top pageantry will have a new moniker going forward. World governing body FINA voted to change its name to artistic swimming.


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