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Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Medal or bust for Montminy

  Canadian diving star Anne Montminy somehow managed to pass her bar exams while jumping into the drink every day.

 With less than three months to go before the Sydney Olympics, the former Commonwealth and Pan American Games diving champion faced the daunting prospect of having to write her law school exams and qualify for the Olympic team.

 The exams came first. While the Montreal native felt she did a pretty good job, she had no idea whether she had passed when it was time to compete at the Olympic dive trials last month in Montreal.

 TOUGH TIME

 The combination of studying, training, worrying and not sleeping very much began taking its toll.

 "It was not a pleasant month for me because I knew I could have failed my bar exams and I would have had to (redo them) next year," Montminy said yesterday. "And I could have not made the Olympics. That could have been devastating.

 "I can say now that it wasn't that bad, but I wasn't happy. My friends were just hating me at the time."

 Montminy, 25, came through in admirable fashion, passing the exams and accepting a position at the prestigious Montreal law firm of Goodman, Phillips and Vineberg, while nailing a spot on the Canadian team by winning the 10-metre event at the Olympic trials.

 Now she can actually enjoy life.

 In September, Montminy will compete in her third Olympics, and hopefully win a medal. When that's over, the University of Montreal law school graduate plans to travel through southeast Asia for a few months before returning home to begin her legal career.

 She is much more relaxed these days, even if there is some pressure to win a medal. Ranked No. 2 in the world based on her silver medal-winning performance at the FINA World Cup last January, Montminy will lead a powerful Canadian diving squad to the Games. The team includes defending Pan American Games three-metre champion Eryn Bulmer and teenage sensation Alexandre Despatie.

 "I would say that we have to come away with at least one medal and would be extremely disappointed if we didn't," said Montminy, who holds the Canadian record on the women's platform with 546.21 points.

 Montminy is determined to reach the podium in Sydney, partly because of her world ranking and partly because of her disappointing showing at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. Ranked fourth in the world at the time in the 10-metre platform, Montminy failed to make the final and finished 24th.

 SOLID YEAR

 For eight months after those Games, the Pointe-Claire Diving Club athlete abandoned the pool and threw herself into her law studies.

 "And then one day, I saw a list of World Cup results, and I said to myself, 'I can still do this.' "

 At an age when most divers have long retired, Montminy has experienced a career year, finishing second at the World Cup and getting medals at a series of prestigious world events.

 "I'm so glad I came back because, really, it's the best diving I've ever done," she said.