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Diving duo Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito capture bronze

Canadian divers Roseline Filion, left, and Meaghan Benfeito celebrate after winning their bronze medals in women's synchronized 10m platform at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

They're sometimes mistaken for identical twins, which they think is hilarious given the resemblance is fleeting and one has brown eyes, while the other's are green.

But they understand why people would make the mistake.

When you spend as much time together as bronze-medal divers Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito, traits, personalities and mannerisms tend to blend.

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The 25-year-old Filion, who hails from Laval, Que., and 23-year-old Benfeito of Montreal have spent the past five years training together, seven or more hours a day, six days a week.

"We miss each other on Sunday, so we usually text or call," Benfeito laughed a few moments after winning the Canadian diving squad's second medal of the London Olympics.

After the medal ceremony for the 10-metre event and several rounds of interviews, the two divers sprinted around the outside of the venue to meet their parents, leaping into their arms – and then into the other set of parents' arms.

The relationship between the two divers, you see, extends to their families.

"We've known each other for years, since we've been here we've eaten together every night. [Monday] was our fish and chips night. We follow each other around ever day," Filion's father, Marc, said with a laugh.

The divers' mothers were dressed identically in the stands during the competition, which didn't escape their daughters' notice. "Of course," Benfeito's mother, Margie Correia, said when asked if it was planned. "It's synchro for us, too."

Tuesday was also a red letter day for Benfeito's father, Arthur.

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"It's priceless, it's absolutely priceless. It's my birthday and this is the best present a parent could hope to have," said the elder Benfeito, who turned 50.

While the divers were able to celebrate with family, they dedicated the performance to Filion's grandfather and Benfeito's uncle, both of whom passed away this past year.

"We had some angels with us today, they had the best seats in the arena," said Filion, an inveterate hockey fan who brought her lucky Montreal Canadiens fleece blanket to London.

The memento Benfeito brought along was a photo of two of her late uncles, which she taped to the mirror of her room in the athletes' village.

Despite similarities that go way beyond their team jackets, they have differences, too: Filion is typically too nervous to watch her rivals during competitions, whereas Benfeito always makes a point of knowing what the other duos have done.

Filion admitted having trouble eating and sleeping in the days leading up to the event, but added: "I actually felt calmer and more serene when we got up to the tower than I think I ever have. We had literally done everything we could to prepare."

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Both divers said they took extra motivation from good friends Jennifer Abel and Émilie Heymans, who won bronze Sunday in the three-metre springboard.

"When they got back to the village, it was late, we were sitting with them, looking at their medals, and we said, 'We want one, let's go get one.' It was so inspiring," Filion said.

It was also the second consecutive occasion a Canadian synchro pair came from behind to win a medal.

Benfeito and Filion had dropped to fourth place after two dives, but nailed a difficult forward 31/2 somersault to return to third, a position they wouldn't relinquish.

Diving Canada technical director Mitch Geller said: "It's the best I've ever seen them do that dive in practice or in competition."

From there, Filion said, the plan was: "Don't look, don't think, do the dive like we know we can, screw the synchro, just land on your head."

They did, and the medal was theirs.

China's Chen Ruolin and Wang Hao won top honours – it was the second synchro gold in a row for Chen. Mexicans Paola Espinosa Sanchez and 15-year-old partner Alejandra Orozco Loza edged the Canadians for silver.

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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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