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Vallee proves she belongs in elite divers company

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Canada’s Mia Vallee competes in the Women's Open 3M Finals in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, June 12, 2022. Following a tight contest with American Sarah Bacon, Vallee had to settle for second place. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — After collecting gold Saturday in synchronized diving with teammate Margo Erlam of Saskatoon, Sask., Mia Vallee of Beaconsfield, Que., hoped to get back on the podium Sunday in the individual three-metre springboard event at the FINA Diving Grand Prix — Canada Cup event in Calgary.

Following a tight contest with American Sarah Bacon, Vallee had to settle for second place. But you couldn't tell she was disappointed with that result.

“I’m extremely proud of my performance. I was consistent all day, and that’s often the key to success in diving. I made a few small errors on my last two dives, but I’m going to keep working hard,” Vallee said.

After the first three dives, Vallee led the standings and was well ahead of Bacon, her closest competitor. However, the final two dives ultimately decided the outcome, as Bacon was flawless, scoring 85.25 on her fourth attempt. Vallee came away from the final with 361.25 points, while Bacon clinched the gold medal with 359.75.

Vallee’s strong showing at the Canada Cup has boosted her confidence as she heads toward the world championships, which begin June 18.

“I know I can compete with the best in the world. I wanted to do well here in Calgary because it was one of the first major competitions in a very long time. My results this weekend have made me feel 100 per cent confident in myself for the worlds.”

Pamela Ware of Montreal finished just behind Vallee in the three-metre springboard event, earning the bronze medal with 315.55 points.

On Friday, Rylan Wiens of Saskatoon had a superb showing in the men’s individual 10-metre platform semifinal. And the Saskatchewan native delivered again on Sunday in the final, finishing second with 472.60 points, just behind American Joshua Hedberg with 477.95.

“I’m really happy with my performance. There are a few elements I’ll focus on, but overall, I’m very satisfied with my work. Joshua Hedberg was excellent in the final. I’m happy to see him achieving so much success at only 15 years old,” said Wiens.

Australia’s Cassiel Rousseau, who had been the only diver to edge out Wiens in the semifinal, finished third in the final with 465.75 points.

The weekend was rich in emotion for Wiens, who won the gold medal in synchronized diving with his Montreal teammate Nathan Zsombor-Murray on Saturday, before snapping up the silver medal on Sunday. The 20-year-old is now ready for the world championships.

“It was a great weekend. The chemistry between Nathan and me was great, even though it was our first competition together. I was also able to work on some new jumps. I feel more than ready for the worlds. I’d like to make the top six in the individual events and win a medal in synchronized diving,” Wiens said.

Matt Cullen of Blainville, Que., also competed in the men’s 10-metre platform final on Sunday. He finished fourth with 450.75 points, having performed well on certain dives, including 91.20 points on his first dive of the day.

Earlier, Cullen and his teammate Katelyn Fung of London, Ont., had competed in the mixed 10-metre synchronized event. They earned 243.03 points, which was good enough for second place, behind Brazil’s Ingrid Oliveira and Kawan Pereira with 281.76.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2022

The Canadian Press