Divers Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu won silver in the women’s three-metre synchronized event on Monday and qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Jennifer Abel makes Canadian history with silver medal at world championships

GWANGJU, Korea, Republic Of — Diver Jennifer Abel has set a Canadian record with her ninth career medal at the world aquatics championships.

The native of Laval, Que., teamed with Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu of Saint-Constant, Que., to win silver in the women’s three-metre synchronized event on Monday and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Abel, 27, was tied for most medals won by a Canadian with diver Alex Despatie and swimmer Ryan Cochrane heading into the event.

“So much was on the line today,” Abel said. ”We wanted to qualify the country for the Olympics and there was also the possibility for me to become Canada’s most decorated athlete at the world championships. I’m also very proud that I managed to win a medal at the last five World Championships in this event.”

China’s Wang Han and Shi Tingmao won gold with 342 points, while the Canadians came second with 311.10.

Mexico’s Paola Spinosa Sanchez and Melany Hernandez Torres took bronze with 294.90 points.

Tokyo will be the first Olympic Games for Citrini-Beaulieu, 24, who became Abel’s teammate after Rio 2016.

“Everything feels like a dream right now,” Citrini-Beaulieu said. “I can’t believe it finally happened. We put so much work into this and I’m so proud of us. We knew what was on the line, we knew exactly what we had to do and I’m impressed by the way we approached the competition today.

“I’ve been dreaming about the Olympic Games since I was a kid, it feels unreal … someone needs to pinch me.”

It was Canada’s second medal of the world aquatics championships after Eric Hedlin of Victoria won bronze in the five-kilometre open swim on Saturday.

Canada just missed the podium in the women’s team highlight artistic swim event on Monday, finishing fourth.

Later, Chinese diver Chen Aisen won his third straight world championship title by partnering with Cao Yuan in the men’s 10-metre platform synchronized diving event.

Chen and Cao earned 486.93 points to beat silver medallists Aleksandr Bondar and Viktor Minibaev of Russia, who finished with 444.60. Tom Daley and Matty Lee of Britain took bronze with 425.91 points.

Canada’s Vincent Riendeau and Nathan Zsombor-Murray came 11th in the men’s 10-metre synchronized diving event.

Chen, a double Olympic champion, has now won world championship gold in the event with three different partners. He won his first title with Lin Yue in 2015 and then teamed up with Yang Hao in 2017.

For Cao it was his second gold at Gwangju as he also won the men’s three-meter springboard synchro event on Saturday.

China took its overall tally at these swimming world championships to seven golds and a bronze in the diving events.

The competition runs through July 28.

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