Canada's Ware finishes fifth in women's three-metre at diving World Cup

MONTREAL — Pamela Ware was determined not to let one misstep define her.

After falling feet-first into the pool on a dive at last month's world championships in Doha, Ware jumped right back in to compete in this weekend’s World Aquatics Diving World Cup.

Though she didn’t win a medal, the 31-year-old from Montreal put together a solid fifth-place finish in a tight women’s three-metre springboard field Saturday at the Olympic Pool to squash her self-doubt.

“Diving well here proves to myself that it was just a bad competition,” Ware said. “I can pick myself back up and keep moving forward."

Three-time reigning world champion Chen Yiwen of China cruised to gold (395.60). Sarah Bacon of the U.S. earned silver (356.40) and Chang Yani of China took bronze (344.40). Calgary’s Aimee Wilson finished 12th.

Ware, who won silver in the same event last May in Montreal, finished 25th at the worlds.

The missed dive happened a day earlier in a 15th-place finish alongside partner Mia Vallée of Kirkland, Que., in the three-metre synchro. The duo failed to secure a quota spot for this summer’s Paris Olympics as a result.

It was a déjà vu moment for Ware, who stepped away from the sport for a full season after experiencing a similar scene at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

This time around, she was eager to get back on track.

"I worked really hard to not fall down the hole I went down after Tokyo,” Ware said. “I didn't have one year to prepare, I had two weeks. I have a big weight lifted off my shoulders today."

Ware says the biggest hurdle was in the preliminary round, where she placed sixth after fighting some intense nerves from stepping on the springboard.

“I could feel my heart beating, I was shaking and I felt like throwing up I was so stressed,” she said.

Ware had a strong 2023 season that included five World Cup medals, a world championship bronze and three medals (two gold, one silver) at the Pan American Games.

On Saturday, she missed the podium by only 4.85 points after scoring a 339.75, producing her best score of the weekend on the same dive she missed in Doha — a forward two-and-a-half somersaults, one-twist pike.

The specific dive wasn’t the issue, she said, it was the takeoff — known as a “hurdle” in diving.

"In my hurdle, the slower I go, the better it is, but sometimes I go a little too quick, and then I'm completely off balance,” Ware said. “It's really just a timing thing for me, which takes a lot of training and practice."

For that reason, the veteran of Canada’s diving team is taking the remainder of the World Cup season off to prepare for the May 17-19 Olympic trials in Windsor, Ont.

Canada has one pre-qualified spot for the women’s individual three-metre in Paris.

CLOSE CALLS FOR CANADA

Elsewhere in the pool, Canada flirted with the podium but couldn’t grab a medal.

Nathan Zsombor-Murray of Pointe-Claire, Que., finished fourth in the men’s 10-metre platform to end the day after holding a spot in the top three through the first four rounds of the five-leg competition.

The 20-year-old earned bronze in the same event in Montreal last year and finished with a score of 496.10 on Saturday.

"I'm overall just super happy with my performance," Zsombor-Murray said. "Need a couple minor adjustments on a few dives, but I'm on the right track."

Yang Hao of China won gold (533.00), Randal Willars Valdez of Mexico earned silver (530.90) and Lian Junjie of China took bronze (514.65). Rylan Wiens of Pike Lake, Sask., was sixth (479.35).

Zsombor-Murray and Wiens have qualified for Paris in the 10-metre synchro. Wiens also clinched an individual spot, and Canada pre-qualified for another Zsombor-Murray could claim at Olympic trials.

Earlier, Canada's Caeli McKay and Kate Miller also placed fourth in the women's 10-metre synchronized event.

McKay, from Calgary, and Miller, from Ottawa, were in second place after the third round of the five-leg competition before losing pace on their fourth dive. They finished just under 10 points off the podium with 287.91 points.

Quan Hongchan and Chen Yuxi of China captured gold (368.82), Andrea Spendolini Sirieix and Lois Toulson of Great Britain won silver (301.14) and Gabriela Agundez Garcia and Alejandra Orozco Loza of Mexico took bronze (297.84).

McKay and Miller have already booked their spots for Paris in the discipline.

Competition wraps up Sunday with the women’s three-metre synchro, men’s 10-metre synchro, men’s three-metre individual and women’s 10-metre individual finals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2024.

Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press