Canada’s Benfeito, Filion win synchro diving gold
EDINBURGH – Meaghan Benfeito couldn’t hide her disappointment.
The Canadian diver had just made a critical mistake on her and partner Roseline Filion’s fourth attempt in the women’s synchronized 10-metre platform final at the Commonwealth Games – an error that left their medal hopes hanging in the balance.
But instead of dwelling on the flubbed back 3 1/2 somersault, Benfeito gathered herself in hopes of still securing a top-three finish.
“There’s still another dive left. I know how to do all my dives properly,” said 25-year-old. “I think our last dive is our strongest one and I knew if we nailed it we could get on the podium.”
And nail it they did.
Benfeito and Filion produced a textbook back 2 1/2 somersault with 1 1/2 twists to not only get on the podium Wednesday, but win a gold medal that seemed improbable just minutes earlier.
“I wasn’t expecting to come out of this with a gold,” said Benfeito. “I knew that we were still in the hunt for a medal. Gold, I didn’t think so, but our last dive is a strong dive and it’s the reason it’s our last dive.
“We did it pretty well and we’re happy with the result.”
Montreal’s Benfeito and Filion, of Laval, Que., scored a total of 310.65 points, just ahead of England’s Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch with 307.92. Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Nur Dhabitah Sabri took bronze with a score of 300.12.
Benfeito and Filion were awarded 76.80 points on their final dive, but the 2012 Olympic bronze medallists could only wait for the leaders’ final attempts.
When Barrow and Couch tallied just 70.08 on the same dive, the Canadians knew they had pulled out the tricky event that was delayed by 35 minutes due to a technical glitch that forced judges to display scores using flip cards.
“It was tough for everyone,” said Filion. “I knew it was going to be close, but I didn’t expect to win at all.”
The 27-year-old has partnered with Benfeito for more than a decade and said they weren’t affected by the late start.
“We were prepared for all these kinds of problems,” said Filion. “Our team manager said in a meeting ‘You never know what’s going to happen. Be prepared, be ready.’
“We could wait the amount of time it took. We were there to compete and dive and that’s what we did.”
Wednesday marked the first of four competition days at the cosy Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, about a 75-kilometre drive from Glasgow.
Laval’s Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware of Beloeil, Que., were set to take part in the women’s synchronized three-metre springboard final later Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Abel was a bronze medallist in three-metre synchro at the 2012 Olympics with former partner Emilie Heymans, and again at last year’s world championships with the 21-year-old Ware.
Abel won gold in the one- and three-metre individual events – as well as a silver with Heymans in the three-metre synchro – at the Commonwealth Games four years ago in New Delhi.
Benfeito and Filion’s come-from-behind victory capped an impressive season for the pair, who finished 2014 with a podium appearance in each of their eight international events.
But even with a gold medal hanging around her neck, Benfeito was still kicking herself for her miss on the fourth attempt.
“It’s a dive that causes me a lot of problems, but it’s usually good in synchro,” she said. “I am disappointed that I missed because we could have won by a lot more, but it happens.
“It’s in the past. You’ve got to move on, you’ve got to do another really good dive and that’s what we did.”
Benfeito and Filion won silver in 10-metre syncho at last year’s world championships, and will compete in the individual 10-metre event here as veterans on a young Canadian team that has seen a number of retirements in recent years, including Alexandre Despatie.
“It’s so weird because we used to be the babies on the team,” said Filion. “It’s interesting for me because I get to give a little bit of advice, when I used to get all the advice.”
Added Benfeito: “The transition has been really easy so I think that makes the team even stronger.”
What the young Canadian divers here in Scotland learned on Wednesday from their now-veteran teammates was simple.
“Anything can happen and it’s definitely not over until the last dive,” said Benfeito. “You have to give everything you can until the end.”
© 2014 The Canadian Press