New faces appearing on Canadian Olympic team as many veterans compete at final Olympics

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When Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans won the bronze medal in the three-metre synchronized diving Sunday it was an example of the changing face of the Canadian Olympic team at the London Games.

Heymans became the first female diver to win medals in four Olympic Games. For Abel it was her first medal in just her second Olympics.

[Video: Canadian divers delighted with bronze medal]

The London Games is Heymans' final bow on the Games' stage. The curtain is still rising on Abel's Olympic career.

"It's Emilie and Jennifer and amazingling it's also the story of our team,'' Mark Tewksbury, Canada's chef de mission, told Christie Blatchford of Postmedia.

"It's a young team coming together with veterans. The energy that can be created can be magical.''

Heymans joins a long list of Canadian athletes who are likely competing at their last Olympics.

"I think I'm pretty much done diving after London,'' she told Dave Stubbs of Postmedia. "I've done what I had to do.''

[Related: Better training gives Canadian boxers a fighting chance]

Fellow diver Alex Despatie, 27, might compete for a couple more years but isn't sure about another Olympics.

"It will be one year at a time,'' said the Laval, Que., native who first burst onto the international scene at age 13. "It's going to take a lot of thinking.''

Other athletes likely competing at their last Olympics include flag-bearer Simon Whitfield, 37, who will be looking for his third medal in his fourth Games; cyclist Clara Hughes, 39, who hopes to become the most decorated Olympian in Canadian history; and Karen Cockburn, 31, who is competing at her fourth Olympics in trampoline and has won three medals.

Swimmer Brent Hayden, 28, is competing in his third Games but hasn't decided if this will be his last.

"It's potentially my last,'' said Hayden, who will get married after the Games. "I haven't been able to pull the trigger on that decision yet. I'm going to wait until after the Olympics and after my wedding and really see where I see myself four years later.''

Julia Wilkinson, 25, plans to swim until the next world championships but isn't sure about another Olympics.

Olympic grandfather Ian Millar is 65 and competing in his record 10th Games as a show jumper.

A wave of young Olympians are ready to replace the veterans.

Abel was just 16 when she qualified for the 2008 Games in Beijing making the Montreal native one of the youngest divers in Canadian history to go to the Olympics.

"I am so happy, but the feeling has not sunk in yet," the 20-year-old said about her medal.

For Heymans, Abel is the third partner that has joined her on the Olympic podium.

[More: Canadian swimmers enter The Twilight Zone]

"I'm really happy that I was able to win my fourth medal with Jennifer,'' said the 30-year-old from Saint-Lambert, Que. "We've worked hard together for the last two years."

Both Abel and Heymans will compete individually in the women's three-metre springboard event Friday.

Also on Sunday 18-year-old Brittany MacLean, swimming in her first Olympics, set a Canadian record in the 400-metre freestyle heats and then finished seventh in the finals.

The women's gymnastics team qualified for the final for the first time in a non-boycott Olympics.

"It's unreal,'' said 15-year-old Victoria Moors, the youngest Canadian competitor in any sport in London. "I'm so happy to be part of this.''

On Monday the men's eight rowing team has advanced to Wednesday's medal race with six new crew members.

More London Olympics content at Yahoo! Canada Sports:
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