Games hold special place

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

The Commonwealth Games may have lost some lustre in comparison to some of the other sporting events on the calendar.

It's certainly not the Olympic Games. Other events such as the FINA World Aquatic Championships have taken its place in importance on the international scene.

But it still holds a special place for North Vancouver's Blythe Hartley, a two-time world one-metre diving champion and 2004 Olympic bronze medallist.

"It's a good meet because it's high profile when it comes to Canadian events so it's good to get out there and get exposure," said Hartley, who qualified for the Commonwealth Games, March 15-26 in Melbourne, Australia, by winning the women's open three-metre final at the Diving Canada Winter Nationals and Commonwealth Games Trials, yesterday at the Pan Am Pool. "It's a lot of fun and it's another opportunity to compete at a major games where there's quite a bit of pressure.

"Just to compete under those circumstances will only help you in the future."

Hartley, a senior at the University of Southern California, finished with a score of 341.40 points to easily beat her three-metre synchro partner and Winter Nationals 10-metre platform champ Emilie Heymans of St-Lambert, Que., who ended up with 321.15 points. Montreal's Melanie Rinaldi was third.

In the Men's 10-metre platform final, Alexandre Despatie of Laval, Que was an easy winner, scoring 505.45 points on six dives. Eric Sehn of Edmonton was second with 426.90 points and Wegadesk Gorup-Paul of Victoria was third at 425.65.

Winnipeg's Kevin Geyson finished fourth the 10-metre platform with 381.25 points, but he was nominated by Diving Canada for the Commonwealth Games. Geyson, who placed third in the three-metre on Saturday, will compete in three-metre, 10-metre and one-metre individual events in Melbourne.

SURPRISE NOMINATION

And in a surprise, Winnipeg's Cam McLean, who turns 16 today, also was nominated for the Games. He will compete in three-metre synchro with Geyson. McLean was named to the team after Sehn declined the nomination.

"In the finals, I felt strong but I just didn't feel sharp," said Hartley, who won silver on the one-metre and bronze on the 10-metre at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. "It's disappointing when you don't do your best. But I'm just glad that I was able to work on each of my dives."

"I think it was really good," said Heymans, who teamed up with Hartley for the bronze medal in the 10-metre synchro at the 2004 Olympics. "Of course, some dives could have been better but overall I'm really happy with prelims and finals."

Yesterday's competition marked the first time that Heymans had competed in three-metre in 18 months, she said.

"It was hard at the beginning of the year (to get back into it), but it came back really good," said Heymans, who took silvers in the three and 10 metres at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

The gold medallists from the three and 10 metres as well as a combination of silver medallists and synchro teams qualified for the Commonwealth Games team. As well, the Winter Nationals is being used to select Canadian teams for the FINA Diving Grand Prix circuit.


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