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Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel win Canada’s first medal on their final dive

Neate Sager
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Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel (second and far right) show off their bronze medal (Al Bello, Getty Images)

Fortunately for Émilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel, the country will focus more on how they did than how they did it.

The Canadian divers spared the nation a long wait for the country's first medal at London 2012 — remember waiting until Day 8 to see the Maple Leaf hoisted in Beijing four years ago? — by taking the bronze medal in women's synchronized 3-metre springboard. It is Olympic history for the 30-year-old Heymans, who simultaneously became the first female diver to medal in four consecutive Games.

[Slideshow: Émilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel]

The pair was fourth in the eight-team field after three dives, with two rounds to go, and missing the podium in an event where Canada has come to expect a medal would have been considered disastrous. However, with the pressure mounting, Abel and Heymans attempted the reverse 2½ somersault, the dive they had been having the most difficulty with in the lead-up in Games. They scored high enough to move into fourth. They then received high enough individual scores on their final plunge to shade Italy's Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallape' for the bronze.

"I'm happy that it's done and that we finished well, we trained so hard for this," Heymans, who is likely in her final Olympics, told CTV. "I'm really happy, I think we are really happy. It went well enough today."

The pair finished with a total score of 316.8 points, behind China's He Zi and Wu Minxia, who continued China's domination of diving with a score of 346.8. Americans Kelci Bryant and Abigail Johnston took the silver with 321.9. (China won 7-of-8 diving golds in Beijing.)

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Jennifer Abel (top) and Emilie Heymans have Canada's first Olympic medal (Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press)

Abel and Heymans were held back by poorer scorers for synchronization. Even on their final two dives, when they moved up the standings into medal position, they were off on their timing, which held their total down. Heymans' former synchro teammate, CTV commentator Blythe Hartley, noted after their final dive that "it could have been more."

Nevertheless, by having medalled in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London, Heymans owns a dual distinction among Canadians and female divers.

"I was really nervous a few days ago," she said. "But I felt that as every day was going by, training was going really well... Today I was really nervous but not super, super nervous.

"I have thought about it a little bit," the St. Lambert, Que., native added when asked about making Olympic history. "It's a great accomplishment. I don't really know what to say at this point."

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It is the first Olympic medal for Abel, who is line to become the face of Canadian diving with Heymans. Canada is expected to win 2-3 medals on the platform. Abel is also a contender in women's 3-metre springboard, which well be held on Day Friday, August 3 (AKA Day 7). The 20-year-old won a bronze medal in the event at the 2011 world championships.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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