There was good news and bad for Pamela Ware at the Tin Bo Travel Canada Cup diving meet on Saturday.
The good was that the 19-year-old from Beloiel, Que., finished second to Sweden's Anna Lindberg to in the three-metre springboard event at the Olympic pool to earn a spot on the podium at an international grand prix meet for the first time in her career.
The not-so-good was that her 333.75 points after five dives was short of the 340 she needed to secure a berth on Canada's team for the 2012 Olympics in London.
A disappointing third dive put the points out of reach, but a strong finish got the podium that confirmed the stunning progress Ware has made this season.
“I kept my head high and kept going and it went well,” said Ware.
Three-time Olympic medallist Emelie Heymans of St. Lambert, Que., completely missed her second dive and finished fifth out of six in the final with 195.35 points.
Ware and Heymans are battling for the second spot in the women's springboard on Canada's team behind runaway leader Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que.
Both have a meet next week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to post the qualifying mark of 340 points. If neither gets it, they will face off again at the Canadian Olympic trials May 25-27 in Montreal.
“If that second dive was good I would have had a pretty good score,” said Heymans, whose Olympic medals, one at each of the last three Games, were from the 10-metre tower.
Heymans has her ticket to London booked in the three-metre synchronized event with her partner Abel, but wants to be in the individual competition as well for a better chance at a fourth medal in a four Games.
They each won their semifinal group on Thursday, with Heymans amassing 333.1 points and Ware 327.75.
“I've been in this situation before and we'll see how she reacts to it,” said Heymans. “I'll dive as well as I can and we'll see who's best.
“She took a big step forward this year. We saw before that she had a lot of potential. But Jennifer did the same thing in 2008. No one saw her coming.”
A measure of how much Ware has progressed is that before this year she said she had never topped 300 points.
Heymans switched to the three-metre board after the Beijing Games. She said it is more difficult, but the day to day training is easier on the body.
“At one point this year I almost thought about going back to the 10-metre because I thought the competition isn't as strong as when I was doing it, but it was a little too late to do that,” she said with a laugh.
Ware and her older sister Carol-Ann finished second in the synchro final to Canada's top pair, Olympic medal hopefuls Meaghan Benfeito of Montreal and Roseline Filion of Laval. Australians Loudy Wiggins and Rachel Bugg were third.
Two-time Olympic silver medallist Alexandre Despatie of Laval and Reuben Ross of Pilot Butte, Sask., were second in the three-metre synchro to Huang Qiang and Bryan Nickson of Malaysia, with Rommel Pacheco and Jonathan Rovalcaba of Mexico third.
The London-bound Canadian pair tried out a new dive that can bring extra points for degree of difficulty for the first time and were happy with how it went.
The two have not had much time to train together with Despatie returning from a knee injury.
“We'll be going to two meets (in Italy and Spain) before the Olympics and we'll have more time to work together,” said Despatie.
The men's tower saw Andres Villarreal of Mexico finish ahead of Cubans Jose Guerra and Jenkler Aguirre. Riley McCormick of Victoria nailed his last dive and finished fourth, less than a point behind Aguirre.
“Going into the competition I just had a little jitters for the first couple of dives,” said McCormick. “It's tough to lose by less than a point and frustrating to miss the podium, but I'm the one that controls how I do so I can't blame anyone but me. I can take away good experience from this looking forward to London.”
McCormick earned Canada its only Olympic entry in the event and is expected to confirm his spot at the trials.
The meet wraps up Sunday with finals in the women's 10-metres and three-metre synchro and men's three-metres and 10-metre synchro.