Female diver in pike position in the airAP Photo/Koji Sasahara
AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

McKay comes from behind to win bronze at Diving World Cup

Caeli McKay has added to Canada’s medal haul at the FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo, winning 10m platform bronze for her first individual medal in a major international event.

McKay finished with 338.55 points, putting her on the third step of the podium behind Malaysia’s Pandelela Pamg, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist who claimed the gold with 355.70 points, and host country favourite Matsuri Arai who totaled 342.00 points for silver.

McKay was in fifth place entering the final dive. She had gotten off to a rough start, earning 5s and 6s from the judges for her opener, which landed her in last place among the 12 finalists. But from there, she gradually worked her way up the standings. She finished off with a superb back 2.5 somersaults with 1.5 twists in pike position that earned her 81.60 points from the judges — the single highest scoring dive of any finalist — allowing her to leapfrog the British and Italian divers who had been ahead of her.

“I’m really happy, finishing on the podium. It’s one of my first times being on the podium for individual. I’ve been on it at a Grand Prix meet before, but this is my first major individual medal so I’m very happy. I feel like I could have dived better. My first dive of the final was quite bad and I wasn’t happy with it at all. But I’m really happy with keeping it together throughout the event and being able to come back and do some really good dives afterwards,” McKay said.

This was McKay’s second medal of the World Cup, after winning gold in the 10m synchro event with partner Meaghan Benfeito and locking up their Olympic spot in the event. That was Benfeito’s focus for this competition and what she had spent the most time preparing for, so she opted to withdraw from the individual 10m competition to avoid any risk of injury, Diving Canada’s Chief Technical Officer Mitch Geller explained.

The two women had secured the maximum two quota spots in the individual 10m event for Canada at the 2019 World Championships where they both reached the final.

When asked to comment on her Olympic aspirations, McKay said “My goals for the Olympics: in synchro would be to medal for sure and for the individual I’m shooting for a medal as well. But to be there is just an experience in itself.”

McKay’s breakthrough follows that of Rylan Wiens, who won his own 10m platform bronze on Tuesday. Canada also claimed synchro medals by the women’s 3m duo of Jennifer Abel and Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu and the men’s 10m pairing of Vincent Riendeau and Nathan Zsombor-Murray.

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The last event of the FINA Diving World Cup, the men’s 3m springboard, will finish up on Thursday with the semifinals and finals. Thomas Ciprick is Canada’s lone entry. He placed 17th in the preliminary round to advance to the semis.