Mon, September 23, 2013

Heymans joins Canada's all-time greats

By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency


Canada's Emilie Heymans, having now won four medals in four different Olympics, ranks among Canada's best Summer Olympians ever, Steve Simmons says. REUTERS/David Gray


LONDON - Welcome to history, Emilie Heymans.

And take a seat alongside Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle as the greatest Canadian athletes in Summer Olympic history.

Four medals won in four Olympic Games will do that for the Quebec diver.

“I’m really happy that I’m able to win my fourth medal,” she said afterwards.

It took her a moment or two to realize she and partner Jennifer Abel had won bronze in synchronized diving, but once she did, her arms were thrown into the air and the large Olympic smile never left her face.

When asked what it feels like to be an athlete who will be talked about forever, she first giggled and then said: “I’ll see in a few years. We’ll see if people are still talking about it. I hope that other athletes can have the same thing.”

In terms of numbers, the most decorated Canadian Summer Olympian is long distance runner Phil Edwards, who was nicknamed “The Man of Bronze” after winning five bronze medals in three different Olympic Games. He won one medal in 1928, three in 1932 and a fifth bronze in the 1936 Olympics. The four medals by Heymans in four Olympics — the second time she and a partner have been the leadoff medal for Canada, here and in Athens eight years ago — may never be matched by another Canadian athlete.

But Abel, for one, would like to try.

This is her second Olympics and her first medal. She’s only 20 years old. Her next Olympic competition pits her against Heymans — and the rest of the world — in a much more taxing event, the 3-metre springboard diving event that takes place over three days.

They don’t talk through that competition. “She stays in her bubble and I stay in mine,” said Abel.

But they don’t have to worry about that until Friday. For now, they can enjoy the medal and all that comes with being Canada’s first to the podium. History-making for Heymans, who almost certainly won’t participate in a fifth Olympics. And this is a the big first step for Abel, who is all but certain to be back for Brazil in four years.

“I was nervous before the whole thing started,” said Cesar Henderson, Abel’s personal coach and one of the synchro coaches. “Diving is a sport all about nerves. One bad mistake and you’re Olympics can be over. It’s competition. It’s every four years. You only have one shot.

“It’s the first day for diving here and we’ve got a medal. Today, it just went great for us.”

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

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