Sadness and pride for Meaghan Benfeito as she fails to qualify for 10m platform final

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TOKYO — Never in her imagined worst-case scenarios did Meaghan Benfeito think her Olympic adventure would end this way.

The 32-year-old's fourth Olympics finished in heartbreaking fashion on Thursday after she failed to qualify for the women's 10-metre platform diving final.

"Yes I'm sad, I don't want to finish my career this way," said Benfeito, who missed qualifying by five points. "It hurts. But I fought to the end, I'm proud of myself."

The three-time bronze medallist found herself at the bottom of the pack after she struggled on her first dive, a back 2 1/2 somersaults with 1 1/2 twists that had also given her trouble in practice.

She temporarily rose into the 12th and final qualifying spot after getting high scores for her fourth dive, but ultimately fell back into 13th.

"I'm not an athlete who looks for excuses," Benfeito said. "I missed my dives.

"Earlier this week, I got a little lost in the backspin of my first dive and it showed today that I was fearful."

When asked to elaborate, the 32-year-old Montrealer said the mistake was a technical one.

"When I lift my head too much at the start, I don't get enough momentum to arrive vertical," she said. "It's disappointing, especially since I've been doing it for 20 years. To know I wasn't able to execute it when it counted the most sucks.

"At the same time, I'm proud of having continued to push and to battle to the end. Despite two missed dives, I still got nearly 300 points."

Fourteen-year-old Chinese diver Quan Hongchan soared above the competition, finishing just above her teammate Chen Yuxi going into Thursday's final.

Benfeito won a bronze medal in the 10-metre platform in 2016. She also won two bronzes in the 10-metre synchro event in 2012 and 2016 with former partner Roseline Filion.

Benfeito and Caeli McKay finished fourth in the 10-metre synchronized event last week, missing the podium by less than a point.

At the age of 32, Benfeito believes Tokyo will be her final Olympics. However, she said she doesn't want to end her career this way. She'll take a few weeks to rest and reflect before deciding whether to compete in a few FINA Grands Prix later this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2021.

Marc Delbès, The Canadian Press

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