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Jennifer Abel captures one of three gold medals for Canadians at Canada Cup


CALGARY — Jennifer Abel capped a golden Saturday for Canadian divers at the Canada Cup.

The native of Laval, Que., captured the third gold medal of the day for the home country by winning the women's three-metre event.

"Feels good," Abel, 27, said. "It was a very tough competition. We started with 34 girls in prelims, so to be able to stay focused every time, it was mentally demanding. I'm pretty happy with how it ended.”

Montreal's Philippe Gagne and Francois Imbeau-Dulac of St-Lazare, Que., teamed up for a win in the men's three-metre synchro event, while Montreal's Meaghan Benfeito and Calgary's Caeli McKay won the women's 10-metre synchro competition.

Abel also is diving on the World Series circuit — the next level up and the sport's top level of competition — where she finished third in her first two events in Japan and China.

This weekend in Calgary, followed by the next World Series stop April 26-28 in Montreal, gives her two straight competitions on home turf.

"It's fun to show the Canadian fans what we're capable of," Abel said. "And before an Olympic year, having our fans cheering for us is always nice."

Montreal's Pamela Ware had finished fourth, right behind Abel, in both of those two World Series events, which is the same order as they finished in last year's Canada Cup stop in Calgary.

But on this day, it looked like it was Ware's turn to finish on top as three excellent dives had her in first place heading into the final two attempts.

But Abel surged in front with a terrific fourth dive. Carrying the highest degree of difficulty of any of the dives attempted by the six finalists, she nailed the front two-and-a-half somersault pike with double-twist.

“It's a big dive for me and for the girls and the reason I put it fourth is because I know I can put that dive down and when I do, I know I'm going to be close to the podium or on the podium," Abel said.

After four dives, first was still within reach for Ware, but a disappointing final dive dropped her to third. Australia's Esther Qin took silver.

“Very negative and disappointed,” said Ware, describing her immediate reaction.

But the encouragement of her coach and other support staff changed her tone.

"So many people came to talk to me and told me that I should be positive because what I've been working on, I did everything right," she said. "I've been diving for 19 years and I finally have the right takeoffs. Now, with more training, I'll be able to get the entrances down as well."

Abel says her diving is right where she wants it to be with the world championships in Korea looming in July, followed by what she hopes will be her fourth Olympics next summer in Tokyo.

"I'm exactly where I want to be right now," she said. "My coach and I are pretty satisfied with everything and now we're going to keep it going."

After winning a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics in the three-metre synchro with Emilie Heymans, Abel finished in fourth in 2016 with Ware. It was one of two fourth-place finishes in Rio for Ware, who also finished fourth in the three-metre.

"2017 was really hard for me to come back and be motivated and also enjoying diving," said Abel. "But now I know exactly why I'm doing this and it's not for any sort of places, it's more to be the diver that I know I can be and to be the best that I can be."

The Canada Cup, which wraps up on Sunday, features more than 130 competitors from 22 nations.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press