MONTREAL – Competitors from all over the world are plunging into the cool waters of the Aquatic Complex at Montreal’s Parc Jean Drapeau, looking for glory at the FINA Masters World Championships.
“I love being scared.”
“I love throwing myself into the air and I love the challenge of being scared and then going for it,” said Montrealer Catherine Rendell-Green.
Rendell-Green is one of the hometown diving competitors — she discovered the sport when she was 47 years old.
“I went because I signed my son up for diving, and then I looked on the sheet and I saw Masters Diving. I thought, ‘What is this?’ … And I said, I want to do this too.'”
A former runner, Rendell-Green now practices her diving five times a week, and it has reignited her love of sports.
“As you get older, you think, ‘Oh I can’t, I can’t.’ But then you see Richard, who is 66 years old – he’s got more passion than I will ever have – every practice he comes in and says, ‘Let’s go.’ And I say, ‘Alright.'”
Montrealer Richard Leblanc has diving in his blood. He brings home new medals almost every time he competes.
“That’s a good feeling,” he said, “because it’s precision, you must take all the things at the right time.”
Leblanc also plays by his own rules.
“I take a rest sometimes, I have a good life. I take two beers a day, why not.”
But it’s not just fun and games; there is some serious competition in categories that range from 25 years old up to 100 years old.
“I got fourth in the world yesterday,” said 26-year-old dive competitor, Suzie Lafrance. “I cannot expect anything more. I dove well, and I’m happy.”
Lafrance began diving when she was four years old, and she still gets a huge rush every time.
“It’s scary. But when you go on the edge and concentrate and you jump, and you just forget everything, you enjoy the momentum the air.”
Event organizer, Pierre Cloutier, is proud of the event’s impact on the lives of the competitors and on the city itself .
“It’s very exciting for Montreal, there are so many people coming, paying their own way to come to Montreal. The economic impact for this is anywhere between $60 and $90 million.”
The FINA World Masters Championships is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and the biggest aquatic event on the planet, boasting over 9,000 athletes from over 97 countries, but what is most impressive is the sense of camaraderie at the event.
“Find a passion and you’ll find other people with the same passion.”
Mary Florence Bennett has been competing for many years. The nearly 70-year-old now suffers from lung cancer and has to breathe through an oxygen tank between dives, but she hasn’t let that stop her.
“Everybody’s doing everything they can to help me be better, and that’s even more moving than anything else.” she said. “Even just diving as little as I’ve dived, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful. Like coming home.”
She’s inspired everyone at the Masters with her perseverance and an incredible performance so far this week.
“I placed second in the (65-69 age category) one-metre dive. That felt really good. Most important was to just get out there and dive, though. That was awesome.”
It’s the kind of performance that Rendell-Green aspires to as she ages.
“It’s never too late,” she said. “Find a passion and you’ll find other people with the same passion. It’s great. I recommend it for everybody.”
© 2014 Shaw Media