Expectations high for Canadian divers at Canada Cup Grand Prix event
Meaghan Benfeito of Montreal competes in the Women's 10-metre finals at the Gillette Canada Cup Grand Prix diving competition in Gatineau, on Sunday, May 5, 2013. Befeito won the gold medal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014 4:40PM EDT
GATINEAU, Que. -- The bar has been set high for Canada's divers as they prepare to compete in the 2014 Gillette Canada Cup this weekend.
Mitch Geller, chief technical officer for Diving Canada, said he expects Canadian women to dominate at the stop on the FINA Diving Grand Prix circuit.
"On the women's side we're looking for a medal in every event," Geller said at a press conference Wednesday. "We would like to think that two of those medals would be gold."
Over 100 divers from 18 countries will compete in three-metre and 10-metre solo and synchronized events. Canada will have the largest delegation of divers with 18.
Veteran divers Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, 2012 Olympic bronze medallists in 10-metre synchro, are coming off a strong performance at a FINA World Series competition in London.
The pair earned their best score this season to win bronze in the women's 10-metre synchro event.
Benfeito also won silver in the 10-metre tower in London.
"Knowing that they expect us to do well makes me want to dive better," Benfeito said. "We've been doing really well in synchro events and while I'm satisfied with my performance individually I know I can still improve and be better. My motivation is really high and hopefully I can put on a good show this weekend."
The pair see the Chinese divers as their fiercest competition, but are hopeful to gain some energy from the crowd.
"It's a thrill to compete at home in front of friends and family and we feel like we have the home field advantage," Filion said. "I know expectations are high, but I don't feel any extra pressure as I set my own personal goals and they're pretty close to Mitch's."
Canada will also look for strong performances from Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware, who won bronze in London in the three-metre springboard.
On the men's side Diving Canada is continuing the process of developing a number of younger divers. The team's oldest divers are 23-year-old Francois Imbeau-Dulac and Riley McCormick, 22.
Both were part of the 2012 Olympic team and are now expected to challenge on the international scene.
"On the men's side we are looking for finals in every event," Geller said. "We have some scoring thresholds that we're looking to accomplish and those very well may put us on the podium as well."
Imbeau-Dulac will compete in the three-metre synchro event with Philippe Gagne, as well as the solo three-metre, while McCormick will compete in the three-metre.
"I'm definitely trying to make the finals in the three-metre and maybe get a medal," said McCormick. "To beat the Chinese would be very difficult. I've been having a very good year and I would like to keep the momentum going."
Much like his teammate, Imbeau-Dulac is looking to improve on his performance scores this weekend.
"It's about composure," said Imbeau-Dulac. "I just want to stay myself and stay focused and feel good. I want to feel like I'm owning the board. It's been a bit of a rough year for me so I just want to go through six dives and feel good about myself."
Others to watch include China's Yanquan Zhang and Liang Huo, both Olympic champions. Brazil's Cesar Castro and Hugo Parisi, as well as Cuba's Jose Guerra and Jeinkler Aguirre will all be looking to get into medal contention.
On the women's side China's Qulin Zheng and Great Britain's Rebecca Gallantree are expected to be tough competitors.
Points earned from this competition will count towards the World Series standings as well as qualification for the Commonwealth Games this summer in Glasgow, Scotland.
This is the second consecutive year that the Canada Cup is held in Gatineau and a commitment has been made to host the event for the following three years as well.