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Alexandre Despatie diving in the right direction

Alexandre Despatie of Canada dives during the men's 3m springboard semi-final in the FINA Diving World Series in Dubai March 16, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

There has to be a first time for everything, it's just that sometimes it doesn't go quite the way it was drawn up beforehand.

Two-time Olympic medalist Alexandre Despatie reckons he will need to perfect a tricky 4.5-forward-somersault dive to contend for the podium in the three-metre springboard this summer at the London 2012 Games.

So he broke it out in the final round of the Canada Cup championship – just the second time he has done so in a competition.

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Soaring off the board and spinning furiously high above the pool, he made a slight error coming out of the final revolution and entered the water on an angle.

The deductions cost him a gold at his last hometown meet of the season – which unfolded before a record crowd – but that wasn't enough to wipe the smile from his face.

"I'm very happy, I can't be disappointed," said Despatie, who is still building up strength after sitting out six months with knee tendinitis. "Whether I was first, second, sixth, the results don't matter now, they matter next summer. With the work I'm doing, we're headed in the right direction."

The 26-year-old Despatie, of Laval, Que., finished second at the FINA Grand Prix event with 497.20 points, 14.55 behind Australian rival Ethan Warren – absent the quad, Despatie had a more consistent performance than Warren, who will be a medal contender in England.

And he plans to continue to work on the new dive, which rewards competitors because of its high degree of difficulty, during a pair of tune-up events over the next two months.

"I'm going to do it more and more, in the future I'll certainly in the semi-finals and maybe in the preliminaries, I need to practice it as much as possible in competition," said Despatie, whose list of dives on Sunday was one of the most challenging he has ever done.

The weekend was a productive one overall for Canada's national team, which walked away with six medals.

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Many of the world's top divers weren't in attendance (the Chinese team had its Olympic trials this past weekend), but it won't tarnish the glow.

Canadian women's pair Émilie Heymans of St. Lambert, Que., and Jennifer Abel of Laval won the three-metre synchro event, providing some consolation to the 31-year-old Heymans, who finished a surprising fifth in the individual event.

The pair has already booked its ticket to London.

"This does us a lot of good, it's probably our last competition together before the Games, so it's good to end it on a high note, I think it will give us a lot of confidence for this summer," Heymans said.

On the 10-metre tower, Montreal-based synchro pair Roseline Filion, 25, and Meaghan Benfeito, 23, headlined a one-two Canadian finish on Saturday.

On Sunday, Filion finished a strong second in the individual event – Benfeito missed out on the final – and scored enough points to close in on her synchro teammate in the race for an Olympic berth in the individual competition.

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"I'm extremely relieved ... it's a tiny ray of hope, I hadn't done well in the World Cups, to come home and dive was great, the crowd was incredible," said Filion, who came back with two of the day's highest-scoring dives after a poor effort to open the final.

Pamela Ware, a 19-year-old from Otterburn Park, Que., posted her first international podium in finishing second in the individual three-metre event on Saturday, the suspense over whether she or Heymans accompanies the 20-year-old Abel to London as Canada's second entrant in the individual competition will go down to the Olympic trials later this month.

Despatie and Reuben Ross of Regina, Sask., won silver in the men's three-metre synchro, the duo are already ensured of a spot in London.

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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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