Divers secure Canada another bronze medal
RIO DE JANEIRO — Divers Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito kept Canada’s medal streak going at the Rio Summer Games with another bronze medal.
Filion, of Laval, Que., and Benfeito, of Montreal, were third in the women’s 10-metre synchronized diving event Tuesday. They were fifth heading into the final round, but a botched dive by the North Koreans gave Filion and Benfeito an opening for a podium finish.
And they nailed it on their final dive — an inward 3 1/2 somersault — for a score of 80.64 points to finish with 336.18 overall behind two Chinese teams. Filion and Benfeito, who were bronze medallists four years ago in London, gave Canada its fourth bronze medal and fifth overall.
“It was crazy. We knew we needed a really a good dive on the last one to have a chance at the podium,” Filion said. “We went up there really calm, looked at each other and told each other, ‘We got this’, and we ended up with a great last dive.”
Canada’s only non-bronze medal also came in the pool, a silver captured by 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak in the women’s 100-metre butterfly final on Sunday. Canadian athletes have won at least one medal on each day of competition so far.
Filion and Benfeito make up half of the “Fab IV” on Canada’s diving team. Filion, Benfeito, Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware all have medal potential in Rio as Abel and Ware missed the podium in the three-metre synchro by less than a point.
“Fab” is an acronym — F for Filion, A for Abel, B for Benfeito, and the Roman numeral IV is a stylized W for Ware. All four women will now shift their focus to the individual events.
The competition was held outdoors for the first time since the 1992 Barcelona Games. But the colour of the water in the pool Tuesday was a putrid green and there was no immediate word on what caused the colour change.
Meanwhile in Brasilia, the Canadian women’s soccer team exorcised some demons with a 2-1 win over Germany to conclude the preliminary round. Melissa Tancredi had both goals as Canada withstood a late barrage from the second-ranked Germans to improve to 3-0-0 to finish atop Group F. More importantly, Canada earned its first win in 13 games against Germany.
“I am just proud of this team,” Tancredi said. “To be able to put two goals past a tier-one opponent and really state our spot in this tournament is really huge for us.”
Both teams had already clinched quarter-final berths. The Canadians will play the runner-up in Group G on Friday in Sao Paulo.
Canadian judo competitor Antoine Valois-Fortier came up short in his bid for a second straight Olympic bronze medal. A third-place finisher four years ago in London, the 26-year-old from Quebec City lost his repechage match to Japan’s Takanori Nagase in the men’s 81-kilogram event.
A win would’ve put Valois-Fortier into a bronze medal showdown against Italian Matteo Marconcini.
“I can’t believe I made all those sacrifices just to finish seventh,” said a distraught Valois-Fortier. “I put everything aside — my family, my girlfriend, my studies.”
After having a first-round bye, Valois-Fortier began the competition with wins over France’s Loic Pietri and Argentina’s Emmanuel Lucenti. But he lost his third-round match to Russian Khasan Khalmurzaev to drop to the repechage.
In tennis, Toronto’s Daniel Nestor will have a chance at another podium finish 16 years after winning Canada’s only Olympic tennis medal to date.
Nestor teamed with Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil to cruise past the Italian duo of Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-1 in the men’s doubles quarter-finals.
Nestor teamed with Sebastien Lareau to upset the favoured Australian duo of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde in the men’s doubles final of the 2000 Sydney Games.
“We played a great match, very crisp.” Nestor said. “We’re hitting the ball great, both of us. We were all over them and we didn’t let the foot off the pedal.”
Nestor and Pospisil will face Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez in the semifinal on Wednesday. The Spanish duo beat Austria’s Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya in straight sets in another quarter-final.
The women’s doubles team wasn’t as lucky, as Eugenie Bouchard and Gaby Dabrowski were eliminated after a 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4 loss to Czechs Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova. The match was a see-saw battle, most notably in the eighth game of the third set.
Bouchard and Dabrowski had several opportunities to break serve down 4-3, but ultimately could not overcome Safarova and Strycova who held on to win the match.
Safarova and Strycova opened the tournament with a huge upset win over defending Olympic champions Serena and Venus Williams of the U.S.
Canada’s swimmers missed the podium for the first time at the Games, with Sydney Pickrem finishing sixth in the women’s 200-metre individual medley. But they’ll get another chance after Santo Condorelli of Kenora, Ont., finished second in his men’s 100 freestyle semifinal, qualifying fourth for the final.
The Canadian men’s field hockey team suffered a 7-0 setback to the Netherlands. The Dutch (2-0-1) moved into second in Pool B behind Germany (3-0) while Canada (0-3) is tied for last with Ireland (0-3).
It marked the first time in the tournament that Canada has been shut out after suffering losses of 6-2 to Germany and 3-1 to Argentina.
The Canadians resume action Thursday facing Ireland, which lost 3-2 to Germany on Tuesday.
After missing the London Olympics four years ago, Canada qualified for the Rio Games with a fourth-place finish at the International Hockey Federation’s World League semifinal in Argentina last June.
Canada’s Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk earned a three-set win over Brazilians Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior and Pedro Solberg in men’s beach volleyball. After losing their opener Sunday, the Canadians will conclude pool play Wednesday against Cubans Nivaldo Nadhir Diaz Gomez and Sergio Reynaldo Gonzalez Bayard.
Later, Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., and Heather Bansley of Waterdown, Ont., improved to 2-0 with a straight-sets win over Switzerland’s Nadine Zumkehr and Joana Heidrich. The Canadians can advance to the quarter-finals with a win over Germany’s Karla Borger and Britta Buthe on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Canadian men’s volleyball team stole a set against top-ranked Brazil before losing 3-1. Canada, which opened with an upset of the United States, faces France on Thursday.
“I think we kind of lost our rhythm,” said Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon. “They are the No. 1 team in the world for a reason, and if you want to beat them you have to play a lot better than we did tonight.”
By The Canadian Press