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Alexandre Despatie advances to three-metre springboard final

Alexandre Despatie of Canada dives during the men's 3-metre springboard diving semi-final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012.

Associated Press

Lest anyone get too excited, it's going to take a supreme effort for Alex Despatie to stand on the podium after the three-metre springboard final on Tuesday evening.

But it's not like he hasn't done it before - those who witnessed his silver-winning performance in Beijing four years ago will note parallels this year as he builds through the rounds.

In the morning semi-finals at the Olympic Aquatic Centre, the 27-year-old double Olympic medalist put together a sequence of six flawless dives - with the increased degree of difficulty for his final list, he will be spending the hours between the semi and the final feeling good about his chances of winning a third medal at his fourth Summer Games.

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That would, of course, be a remarkable story, considering the training accident seven weeks that saw him rip his scalp open on a diving board in Madrid.

"I'm just really, really happy to be in the final, as things were going well in the event I was thinking 'six weeks ago I was lying in a bed in a hospital,' now I'm going to be in my last Olympic finals, I'm really, really thrilled," Despatie said. "I want to do well, I want to keep going . . . I'm a performer, I know my circumstances are way different than anyone else's but once the competition starts we're all in the same boat. I'm going to go rest, come back tonight and be focused."

The Laval, Que., native may regret omitting the reverse 3.5 somersault from his final list - in favour of a lower-scoring 2.5 - but if the progression between the semi and the final is the same as between the preliminaries and the semi, who knows?

Despatie finished eighth in the semi-finals with a more conservative list than his rivals, and even then he scored 472.80 points - higher than his preliminary score with the same list - to qualify comfortably for the final.

China's He Chong and Qin Kai are first and third, separated by Russia's Ilya Zakharov.

Canada's other semi-finalist, 21-year-old Francois Imbeau-Dulac, wasn't able to progress to the final, but the native of St. Lazare, Que., demonstrated he is perhaps the world's best when it comes to high-scoring twisting dives - on his final two, a forward 2.5 with two twists and the same dive with three twists, he ended his Olympics in style.

On his last dive, the Summer Games rookie rated 89.70 points and a delighted fist pump - even if it wasn't enough to make the 12-diver final, he only missed out by 1.45 points.

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"Close, but not quite. I made a mistake on my third dive that cost me a lot, but overall I can't be disappointed," he said. "At the world championships last year I crashed completely . . . but this is a good Olympic debut."

And when he saw the margin by which he had missed the final?

"I shouldn't say this, but I think I let out a swear word," he said.

No one will hold it against him; Imbeau-Dulac will be one to watch in 2016.

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More


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