Caeli McKay holds up her bronze medal on the podium at the World Aquatics ChampionshipsAntoine Saito Photo
Antoine Saito Photo

Caeli McKay dives to 10m platform bronze at World Aquatics Championships

Caeli McKay has captured her first career medal at the World Aquatics Championships. She won bronze in the women’s 10m platform on Wednesday for Canada’s first medal of the meet in Fukuoka, Japan.

McKay, 24, finished the five rounds of diving in the final with a total score of 340.25 points. That put her on the third step of the podium behind a pair of teenage Chinese divers. Seventeen-year-old Chen Yuxi grabbed the gold with 457.85 points while 16-year-old Quan Hongchan took silver with 445.60 points. China has won gold in all nine diving events contested thus far at the world championships.

McKay was very consistent through her first three dives in the final, earning scores in the range of 7.5 to 8.5 from each of the seven judges. That had her in third place for the time being. However, she had a major miss on her fourth dive, the most difficult she attempted. But as luck would have it, a couple of her competitors also had misses on their fourth dives, so McKay only dropped down to fourth place. The Canadian came back with an excellent final dive, her highest scoring of the day, to climb back into a podium position.

“It’s incredible, I don’t even know what to say right now,” McKay said to CBC’s Devin Heroux on the pool deck just after the medal ceremony. “It’s a whole flood of emotions. I was very very nervous on that last dive so I’m kinda hitting a low of adrenaline and a high of emotions so I’m just trying to take in all I can right now.”

It has been 20 years since a Canadian last stood on the world championship podium in this event. Émilie Heymans was the last to do it when she won gold back in 2003.

  • Caeli McKay dives off the 10m platform in layout position
  • Caeli McKay cries as she realizes she has won a medal

McKay had advanced to the 12-woman final after placing fifth in the semifinals on Tuesday. By being among the top 12, she earned an Olympic quota spot for Canada in the women’s 10m platform at Paris 2024.

A year ago, McKay placed fifth in the event at the World Aquatics Championships. She then underwent ankle surgery in October after competing through pain for about a year, following an accident in dryland training less than a month before she made her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. She returned to competition at the World Aquatics Diving World Cup in Montreal in early May.

Prior to winning her world championship medal, McKay’s greatest individual accomplishment had been a bronze medal in the 10m platform at the FINA Diving World Cup in May 2021. At that time, the World Cup was a biennial competition held in the years between World Aquatics Championships.

The diving competition continues at the World Aquatics Championships until Saturday and then the swimmers take centre stage for the second week of the meet.

Over the weekend, McKay placed eighth in the women’s 10m synchro final with partner Kate Miller.