Three bronze medals, a marathon, record-setting tennis match and a thrilling soccer comeback.
Tuesday was a day of drama for Canada at the London Olympics.
Divers Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito kicked off the bronze bonanza in the 10-metre synchronized event. About 30 minutes later, Antoine Valois-Fortier won a surprise bronze in men’s judo. Within the hour, weightlifter Christine Girard was also climbing the podium.
The three medals boosted Canada’s total to four — four more than the country had at this point in the 2008 Olympics. Canada sits 13th in the overall medal standings just behind Britain, which has two silver and two bronze.
Canadian officials said prior to the Games that they were hoping for a top-12 finish.
The medals came two days after divers Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel gave Canada its first of the Games with a third-place finish in the women’s three-metre synchro.
“Our four medals have come in three different sports,” chef de mission Mark Tewksbury said. “The broader we can go, the more exciting it gets.”
Filion, from Laval, Que., and Benfeito, from Montreal, finished with a combined score of 337.62.
“We had to dive our hearts out. We were ready,” said Filion, of Laval, Que. “We said there was nothing more we could have done.”
China continued to dominate the diving competition with another gold, while Mexico took silver.
“They can make mistakes,” said Benfeito, who hails from Montreal, of the Chinese. “We try to say we can win the gold. But they’re amazing divers.”
Valois-Fortier, a 22-year-old from Quebec City, defeated American Travis Stevens 1-0 in the bronze-medal bout.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “I’ve sacrificed so much and all of the fights today were very hard. It was tough mentally but the whole team supported me and I managed to pull myself together. I wanted it really bad, it’s what I work for every day.”
It’s Canada’s first judo medal since Nicholas Gill won silver in 2000.
Girard, who grew up in Rouyn-Noranda, Que., and lives in White Rock, B.C., become the first Canadian woman to ever win an Olympic medal in weightlifting.
“It is very hard to describe how I feel,” said Girard, who finished third behind a Kazak and a Russian with a total weight of 236 kilograms. “Four years ago in Beijing I came fourth and since then I have spent the past four years training through injuries and various changes in my life to get to this moment.”
Tennis star Milos Raonic’s Games came to a heartbreaking end after losing a marathon match 6-3, 3-6, 25-23 to fifth-ranked Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The hard-serving 21-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., saw his serve broken while trailing 24-23 in the third set.
“I felt like I played really well for most of the match and I just let it slip away from me at the end,” Raonic said.
The official match time was three hours 57 minutes. The third set alone lasted an even three hours. The 66 games played were the most ever in a three-set Olympic match and the 48-game third set also set a record. It wasn’t clear whether any time records were broken since match lengths weren’t recorded in early Olympic competition.
Aleksandra Wozniak didn’t last nearly as long against Venus Williams as the Blainville, Que., native lost out 6-1, 6-1 to the American superstar.
“We had some really fast, powerful exchanges but she was on top of her game,” Wozniak said. “I think grass really suits her.”
In men’s doubles, Toronto’s Daniel Nestor and Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil fell in second-round action to the third-seeded Serbian duo of Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 5-7, 11-9.
On the soccer pitch, Melissa Tancredi scored her third and fourth goals of the tournament as the seventh-ranked Canadians rebounded from a 2-0 deficit to tie Sweden 2-2 and book their spot in the quarter-finals.
The game was played in Newcastle, the hometown of Canadian coach John Herdman.
“We had a script written for this game, and what I tried to do was tie it in that for me this game was personal,” he said.
Canada will play Britain in the quarter-finals.
On the water, three sets of Canadian rowers were in action Tuesday morning, but only one made the semifinals.
Victoria’s Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee rebounded from a poor heat to finish second in their lightweight women’s double sculls repechage and advance to Thursday’s semis.
Jennerich and Obee (seven minutes 15.37 seconds) were second to the U.S. (7:13.82) in their repechage. Cuba also moved on with a third-place finish.
“Obviously we wanted to go out and win the rep, but what we have to take home with us is recognizing that as we are moving through the regatta we are improving immensely,” said Jennerich. “We just have to take that and gain confidence in that so that we can put it to use in the semi, which is going to be an extremely tough race.”
The two men’s crews competing Tuesday will have to watch from the sidelines.
Douglas Vandor of Dewittville, Que., and Morgan Jarvis of Clearwater Bay, Ont., faded after a fast start in the lightweight men’s double sculls. They finished fourth, with Greece and Hungary placing one-two to advance to the semifinals.
Michael Braithwaite of Duncan, B.C., and Kevin Kowalyk of Winnipeg finished sixth in their men’s doubles scull semifinal and failed to advance to the final.
In the pool, Brent Hayden of Mission, B.C., qualified for the final of the men’s 100-metre freestyle.
In women’s gymnastics, Canada finished fifth as the U.S. captured its first gold in the event since 1996.