Canadian divers Abel, Citrini-Beaulieu win silver in women’s 3m synchro

TOKYO — — Jennifer Abel did everything she could to ensure the Tokyo Olympics were not a repeat of Rio.

The 29-year-old from Laval, Que., spent a lot of time over the past five years going over her two fourth-place finishes at those 2016 Summer Games.

Sunday’s Olympic silver medal in the women’s three-metre synchronized springboard, alongside teammate Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu, was like a weight off her shoulders.

“Actually, I think I may have added a weight, because this thing is really heavy,” said a laughing Abel, holding up her silver medal moments after the medal ceremony.

“Today we accomplished everything we wanted. We thought about the present moment, not the future or the past. We lived the moment together. I find it beautiful what we have achieved together.”

Added Citrini-Beaulieu: “It’s been a dream since I was young. I kept believing I could do it and now I’m by Jenn’s side and we won a silver medal at the Olympics. I am proud of what we achieved.”

Abel had saidthat she had experienced a certain “identity crisis” after Rio. Because she set the bar so high for herself, she says she left Brazil with a sense of failure. And while she’s since made peace with that moment in her life, the pressure was still high Sunday.

“In Rio, my biggest mistake was focusing on the medal,” said Abel. “But it was not easy to come here and not think about the medal. Especially since Melissa and I have finished second at all the world championships and World Cups since 2017.”

The Canadians started the competition with some difficulty, sitting sixth out of eight teams after two dives. But they quickly climbed the leaderboard by executing higher-difficulty dives.

“We both knew that our first two dives weren’t necessarily the best,” said Abel. “We knew we had to get more points from our last three.

“At the same time, in synchronized springboard, things become very important as of the third dive. That’s when anything can happen. We didn’t get sidetracked with the little mistakes we made at the start because we knew we still had a lot left.”

Abel and Citrini-Beaulieu, from of Saint-Constant, Que., finished the competition with a total score of 300.78.

The Chinese pair of Shi Tingmao and Wang Han finished first with 326.4 points — a fifth straight Olympic title for China in the event. Germany’s Lena Hentschel and Tina Punzel were third with 284.97 points.

“Before our last dive, I knew we were in a good position for a podium finish,” said Abel. “When I entered the water, I knew I had had a good dive. My first reaction then was to look at Melissa and she looked at me with big eyes and she said, ‘I got it’. I turned around and watched the reaction of the coaches and immediately knew that we had won the silver medal.”

On the podium, an emotional Abel wiped away a few tears.

“It’s not easy to come here,” she said. “Everyone talking about the potential of getting the medal. I’m already putting enough pressure on myself and I’m putting some on Melissa too.

“I was really emotional because I couldn’t have had a better partner than Melissa, a person who supports me. I am not always easy to manage. I am very picky. Melissa has always been there for me. It was just doing this together that made me really emotional.”

For Abel, this is a second Olympic medal. She won bronze with Emilie Heymans in London in 2012.

“In 2012, I was young,” said Abel. “With Emilie, she was the one with all the experience and the opportunity to do something huge for her career and for the Canadian team.

“I was in the position where I didn’t want to be the one preventing her from having that title. Here, I wanted to do it for Melissa, it was for our team. We are two very demanding girls, we work hard, we are always ready to do more to reach our goals and that is what we did today.”

Abel will try to apply the same recipe next Sunday in the individual three-metre springboard final.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.

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