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Diving duo find quick chemistry, Grand Prix gold

CALGARY — The chemistry between Mia Vallee of Beaconsfield, Quebec, and Margo Erlam of Saskatoon, Sask., became apparent in the FINA Diving Grand Prix three-metre synchronized event on Saturday in Calgary.

The two Canadians won gold with 305.40 points in only their second competition together.

“It’s great for our confidence. We haven’t been training together for very long, but we’re both strong technically in the individual events, and that carries over well when we dive together,," said Erlam. "We’ve known each other since we were little, so it’s really nice to work as a team.” 

“We’re really happy with our performance. We were a bit nervous before the competition, but it turns out we’re on the same wavelength, which is very encouraging,” added Vallee.

Vallee and Erlam had to work hard to clinch the gold medal, as they were closely trailed throughout the final by another Canadian duo, made up of Montreal's Pamela Ware and Aimee Wilson of Calgary, who finished second with 299.46 points. The gold medallists finally pulled away from their rivals by scoring 72 points in their final dive.

“I was really nervous before our final jump because there was no room for error if we wanted to win. We did one of the dives we’re best at, and it went well,” said Erlam.

“I try to avoid checking the scores during events, but I could still hear the announcers, so I knew that (Ware and Wilson) were always right behind us. Our last two dives were our best, and that’s what made the difference,” said Vallee.

Australia’s Kate Rosman and Alysha Koloi finished third, with 276.30 points.

Erlam’s gold medal with Vallee was not her first of the day. Earlier, she had won the mixed 3m synchronized final with her male teammate Bryden Hattie of Victoria. They finished ahead of Brazil’s Anna Santos and Rafael Fogaca.

Like their compatriots Vallee and Erlam, Nathan Zsombor-Murray of Pointe-Claire, Quebec, and Rylan Wiens of Saskatoon were also participating in one of their first competitions as a team. The two Canadian men put on an impressive performance in the 10-metre platform final, earning the top spot on the podium with 436.56 points.

“I had a great time today. Obviously, there are things we need to work on for next time, but overall, it went well. Most of our training was done individually, but when we started diving together, it all came together quickly,” said Wiens.

Following the retirement of Vincent Riendeau of Montréal, Zsombor-Murray had been looking for a new diving partner, and Wiens quickly proved to be a great match. Given their excellent performance today, their future looks bright.

“Synchronized diving comes easily to us. We’re both strong as individual competitors, so when we dive together, everything flows well. We were very well prepared for today’s final. We started the day strong and we’ll continue to train just as hard together,” said Zsombor-Murray.

Also in action were Benjamin Tessier of Blainville, Quebec, and Matt Cullen of Rosemere, Quebec, who finished third with 374.31 points, just behind Britain’s Ben Cutmore and Kyle Kothari, with 374.58.

After strong performances in Thursday’s qualifiers and semifinals, Celina Toth of Victoria felt confident as she headed into the 10m tower final. The British Columbian finished second with 332.30 points, just behind Brazil’s Ingrid Oliveira, who scored 361.90.

Toth’s third dive was her best of the final round, earning her a total of 84 points. One of the judges even awarded her a perfect score of 10/10. It was a highlight of the weekend for Toth.

Lois Toulson of Britain won bronze with 293.40 points.

In the men’s 3m springboard final, Canadians Bryden Hattie (309.20 points) and Bjorn Markentin of Saskatoon (305.45 points) finished fifth and sixth, respectively. The competition was won by Jordan Houlden of Britain, with 438.75 points.

The Canada Cup wraps up on Sunday with five more finals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2022

The Canadian Press