Fri, September 20, 2013

One Olympic error sinks diver Meaghan Benfeito's solo medal hopes

By ALAIN BERGERON, QMI Agency


Canada's Meaghan Benfeito reacts after missing the podium in the women's 10-metre platform diving event at the London 2012 Olympic Games Thursday. (AFP)


LONDON - Diving is cruel. It reveals your dream in the morning and takes it all away in the evening.

Second in the semifinal, Meaghan Benfeito ended her journey around the 10-metre springboard diving final in 11th place Thursday. (One rank higher was her friend Roseline Filion.)

After this disappointing event, the Montreal swimmer tried to convince us that her early results didn’t shake her focus.

“I like diving and it motivates me even more when I see other girls dive. But my first dive really hurt my chances,” said Benfeito who, due to being in second place during the semifinal, was second-to-last in the diving order.

It’s true that her first dive of the final all but destroyed her chances — a score of 49.5 put her in the 12th and last spot. In a program that allows only five jumps, she immediately lost any margin of error.

“Meaghan worked really hard because her first dive was so disappointing, but she came back to her senses and fought. She has to be proud of how she reacted,” said Aaron Dziver, head coach of the Canadian team. “She put too much energy in her first dive and lost about 20 points. If you give her those points back, she’s among the two or three best.”

Benfeito was philosophical in defeat.

“I guess I had too much adrenalin,” she said. “Still, it is my most stable dive and the one I perform with the most confidence. I told myself that even if I fail one dive, I must forget it. I worked extremely hard in the last four years and one dive is not going to spoil my Olympic Games.”

Bronze medallists in last week's synchronized swimming competition, Benfeito and Filion were not as identical Thursday. The reddened eyes of one stood in stark contrast with the other’s smile.

“I took part in two Olympic competitions, I am going home with a bronze medal and I was very stable in my head dives,” said Filion, who, at 25, wouldn’t speculate on her interest in returning for the 2016 Rio Games. “When I got here, I said I wanted to score over 340 points in the final, which I did (349.10).

“I will take this one year at a time. You do not see many 29-year-olds on the 10-metre springboard, and I would be that age in Rio. If my body allows me to do it, sure, because I still love diving, but I’ll see one year at a time.”

Her sad partner has definitely added Rio to her travel plans in 2016.

“Yes, there will be a third time for me in Rio,” Benfeito said. “Let’s hope I will not miss my last dive."