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Canadian Pamela Weir qualifies for the 3m final at the Diving World Cup in Montreal

Canadian Pamela Weir qualifies for the 3m final at the Diving World Cup in Montreal

MONTREAL – Canadian divers Rylan Wiens and Nathan Zsombor-Murray represent something the country has never seen before, according to one of their coaches.

“We've never had as strong a Canadian team in the 10 metres. This is unheard of in Canadian diving,” coach Mary Carroll said Thursday from the Olympic pool.

Wiens, a 22-year-old from Pike Lake, Sask., and 20-year-old Zsombor Murray from Pointe-Claire, Que., advanced to the men's 10-meter fixed platform final at the World Water Diving Championships on Saturday. . Thursday. Wiens finished seventh, while Zsombor Murray finished ninth in qualifying.

At the World Championships in Doha earlier this month, the duo previously qualified for this summer's Paris Olympics in the 10m synchronized event.

Wiens also pre-qualified in the singles after finishing fifth in Doha, while Zsombor-Murray, who finished ninth, will have to secure his spot in the Olympic qualifiers in Windsor, Ontario, from May 17-19.

Canadian women have been a consistent presence on Olympic podiums. Meanwhile, the men have not reached this level since Alexandre Despatie won silver in the three-metre springboard at Beijing 2008.

Carroll believes Waynes and Zsombor Murray have what it takes to buck the trend.

“If they're out there, they have the potential to medal, and it's not just in synchro,” Carroll said. “That's what's great about the synchro team is that we don't have one good diver and then a buddy — we have two really good divers.”

“They are hungry to get two medals at the Olympic Games. That is their goal.”

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Both Wiens and Zsombor-Murray say they're not shy about the pressure that comes with being ranked as Canada's best chance at breaking the drought in men's diving.

“It adds fuel to the fire,” Wiens said. “We are hungrier than ever now that the situation is really starting to take shape this year.”

The pair have already been on the podium on the international stage with a bronze medal in the 10-meter synchro at the 2022 World Championships, a first in Canadian diving history.

But while trying to continue this momentum into 2023, Wiens has hit several bumps in the road.

After sustaining and aggravating a neck injury during the World Cup stop in Montreal last May, he suffered a “pretty bad” back injury in training and did not compete for five months.

Wiens says it's been a long process to regain his self-confidence after spending more time off stage than he can ever remember.

“It was really hard at first,” Wiens said. “Every dive, I was nervous, especially the one I messed up and didn't do it for three months (as opposed to two and a half years).”

In the Realms, both Wiens and Zsombor-Murray dealt with illness prior to their events.

Despite training for only two out of five days in the lead-up to the match, Wiens made an impressive six jumps in the individual final to score 489.20 points – clearing just the 480-point threshold to secure a ticket to Paris.

Carroll added: “The man is physically strong, and Doha showed me once again how strong he is mentally. It's something worth recognizing before the Olympic year because you need both.”

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While Wiens was on the sidelines in 2023, Zsombor-Murray had his best year yet with a World Cup bronze in the individual 10m in Montreal, two silvers at the Pan Ams and two national titles.

Although he was unable to qualify individually for the world championships for Paris, Zsombor-Murray insists he will fulfill his promise in the Olympic qualifiers.

Zsombor-Murray and Wiens finished 13th and 19th, respectively, in the 10-meter individual at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Come this summer, they are aiming much higher.

“Now that the Games are coming up and I have the experience of the last Games behind me, I feel even more aggressive for the upcoming Games,” Zsombor-Murray said.

Advance tools

Canadian Pamela Weir bounced back from the World Championships with a strong performance on Thursday to advance to the women's three-metre jump final on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Weir, who won silver in Montreal last year, came off a disappointing 25th place finish in Doha. She also missed her final dive in the three-metre synchro alongside partner Mia Vale as Canada failed to secure a quota spot at this summer's Paris Olympics.

On Thursday, the Montreal native landed all of her jumps with consistency and placed sixth out of 17 in the preliminary round.

Calgary's Amy Wilson also moved up to 12th while Amelie Laura Jasmin, 19, of Montreal, finished 13th and missed out on qualifying in her first ever World Cup event.

Later Thursday, Benjamin Tessier of Plainville, Que., finished 17th in the men's 10-meter dash.

The preliminary qualifiers for the men's three-meter race and the women's 10-meter race will be held on Friday, in addition to the final of the team competition.

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The event features more than 120 divers – including 12 Canadians – from more than 20 countries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024.

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