Louis Daignault (ISN)
May 2, 2013, Gatineau, Que (ISN) – Maxim Bouchard of St-Constant, Que., reached his first career FINA Grand Prix final on Thursday to continue an incredible comeback from serious injury at the 2013 Gillette Canada Cup diving competition.
The annual event, being held for the first time at the Centre Sportif, is the third stop on the 2013 FINA Grand Prix circuit.
On men’s 10-metre tower, the 22-year-old Bouchard nailed his final two dives to finish third in his semifinal heat and nearly sneaked up to the top of the standings. Roman Izmaylov of Russia was first at 406.00, Domonic Bedgood of Australia second at 400.85 and Bouchard third at 399.80. The top-three in each of the two semis advanced to Saturday’s final.
Bouchard had dropped to fifth after the fourth round when he struggled with his inward dive receiving mostly 5.5’s. But he rebounded with 7.5’s and 8.0’s for his backward and twisting dives.
“I just tried to forget about that fourth dive immediately,” said Bouchard. ”In the past something like that would really bother me but now I just focus on what I have to do. I know I need to correct a couple dives for the final. I’m really excited about Saturday, my family is here and I’ll have many friends watching on TV.”
It was three years ago, Bouchard was injured when the platform he was on collapsed at a diving show in the Philippines. He suffered multiple external and internal injuries and needed a year to recover.
“Sometimes I feel I’m not improving as fast as I would like,” he said. ”I’m still behind at the international level but I know I need more time to reach that level. Getting into the final here is a big step towards that goal.”
Philippe Gagné of Montreal was sixth in the other semi and did not advance.
There was more good news for Canada on the women’s three-metre semifinal as Pamela Ware of Beloeil, Que., and two-time Olympian Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que., were 1-2 in a semifinal heat to advance to the final, also on Saturday.
Ware scored 330.20, Abel followed at 312.75 and Samantha Pickens of the U.S. third at 311.10. For Ware it was her third consecutive week of competing. She was in Moscow last week and Scotland the week before on the FINA World Series circuit.
”I’m definitely feeling some fatigue,” said Ware. ”But this was one of my better performances this year.”
Abel was brilliant except for her third dive on which she averaged 5.0’s from the judges. The reverse dive has given her trouble the past couple of seasons and potentially cost her the Olympic medal in London last year.
”That dive is definitely my nemesis,” said Abel, who won the bronze in London on three-metre synchro with Emilie Heymans. ”I was pleased to land it well in preliminaries. But I need to be more consistent with it, and that comes with more repetition in practice.”
Competition continues Friday with the preliminaries and semifinals on men’s three-metre and women’s 10-metre.
For more information: www.diving.ca