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Canada's Caeli McKay falls just short of women's 10m podium at diving World Cup

MONTREAL — Caeli McKay did everything she could and then some.

It still wasn’t enough to cap Canada’s weekend with a podium placement.

McKay set a personal best on the international stage with 383.10 points in the women’s 10-metre platform competition Sunday to wrap up the World Aquatics Diving World Cup event in Montreal.

But the 24-year-old from Calgary needed just 1.60 more to catch Great Britain’s Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix for third.

"It's a little frustrating when it's that close,” McKay said. “But I am over-the-moon ecstatic right now.”

McKay was in fourth place through three rounds of the five-leg competition before overtaking Spendolini-Sirieix in the fourth.

The 19-year-old Brit then put down an 86.40 on her final dive — her best score of the event — and it was just enough to fend off McKay, who stood on the edge of the Olympic Pool in disbelief when her successful final dive wasn’t enough to push her onto the podium.

McKay’s final score shattered her previous personal best of 365.70 and eclipsed her bronze-medal winning performance at the 2023 world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, by 42.85.

“I can't be upset with any of it,” McKay said. “And to do that in front of a home crowd like this with such adrenalin and such loud voices, it's just incredible."

Ottawa’s Kate Miller, 18, finished eighth in her first individual final at a World Cup event.

Chen Yuxi of China won gold (415.35) and Quan Hongchan, also of China, took silver (411.45) ahead of Spendolini-Sirieix.

To be in the running with those three also diving their best bodes well for this summer’s Paris Olympics, McKay said.

"It gives me a bit of hope and a bit more insight into how I need to work, what I need to clean up going into the Olympic year,” McKay said. “And it kind of just gives me that feeling that I'm one step closer to my official goal."

McKay and Miller have already booked their tickets to Paris as a pair in the 10-metre synchro discipline. Canada has pre-qualified for one individual spot and could add another.

In Montreal, China swept gold in all nine competitions, giving the strong contingent of Chinese fans lots to cheer for at the Olympic Pool. Diving Canada said it sold 2,173 tickets for Sunday.

Canada was held off the podium, but finished fourth four times and fifth three times.

“Although we didn't get any medals, I think that we are a force to be reckoned with,” McKay said. “People see that Canada is a competitive country with diving.

“It didn't happen this time with the medals but it will in the future."

The World Cup circuit moves on to its second event of the season in Berlin from March 21-24, followed by the World Cup Super Final from April 19-21 in Xi’an, China.

The Canadian Olympic trials are set for May 17-19 in Windsor, Ont. The Olympics begin July 26.

Earlier Sunday, Olympics-bound Canadians Nathan Zsombor-Murray and Rylan Wiens placed fifth in the men’s 10-metre synchronized competition.

Zsombor-Murray, from Pointe-Claire, Que., and Wiens, from Pike Lake, Sask., held on to second place through four rounds of the six-leg event. A missed dive by Wiens on their fourth attempt, however, caught up with them as they finished with 409.95 points.

"Definitely a little disappointed knowing how close the podium was," Wiens said. "Just that fourth-round dive for me, it's been going well, I've been doing well in competition and just didn't do well on this one, so a little bit disappointed in that."

Yang Hao and Junjie Lian of China captured gold (457.23), Randal Willars Valdez and Kevin Berlin Reyes of Mexico collected silver (428.97) and Thomas Daley and Noah Williams of Great Britain took bronze (417.93).

Zsombor-Murray and Wiens have pre-qualified for this summer’s Games in the discipline. They also placed fifth at last month’s world championships in Doha, but are aiming for better in Paris.

"I'm hoping for higher than fifth place at the Olympics, I'm hoping for a medal,” Zsombor-Murray said. “I think a performance like this on my end would be enough, and Rylan, if his fourth dive is better I think it'll be close for a medal."

Chen Yiwen and Chang Yani of China topped the podium in the women’s three-metre synchro. Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook of the U.S. earned silver while Madison Keeney and Anabelle Smith of Australia took bronze.

Canadians Aimee Wilson and Margo Elam of Calgary placed fourth.

Montreal’s Cedric Fofana finished eighth in the men’s three-metre springboard, his first final at a major international competition.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2024.

Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press