Montminy keeps her Olympics in perspective
By DONNA SPENCER -- Canadian Press
Training for the Olympic Games has never been enough for Canadian diver Anne Montminy.
The 25-year-old from Montreal faced a void this summer when her law studies at the University of Montreal concluded before Canadian trials in June.
She signed up for Spanish lessons and bought golf clubs in an effort to distract herself from the buildup to the Olympics in Sydney in September.
"I've always found just diving drives you insane," said Montminy. "You get up in the morning for a three-hour practice. You can't just do that. I really want to learn something."
Perspective is important for Montminy. She lost it after Atlanta in 1996 when she went in as the world fourth-ranked diver on the women's 10-metre platform and didn't make it out of the preliminaries.
She watched teammate Annie Pelletier win a bronze on the women's springboard and felt worse.
"You've just really felt horrible and then all of a sudden someone unexpectedly goes out . . . everybody is human," she said. "It was a very difficult time for me.
"I gained a lot of perspective after that. This is just a game. I could be sick or be in a car accident. Things could be so much worse. This is a game and I screwed up."
Her mistake in 1996, she said, was taking the advice "just enjoy the Games experience" too literally.
"I wasn't nervous. That was a big warning," Montminy recalled. "We wait on the stairs between dives and I was looking for famous people. I saw Jimmy Carter. I saw Hilary Clinton and Carl Lewis and I was loving it.
"I was sleeping well before my events which isn't like me.
"I feel like I need to have a lot of pressure in order to do well. For me, it's better for me to be a little negative and think 'I may be ranked second in the world, but anything can happen here."'
She took a year off after the '96 Games and came back to her sport just as up-and-coming youngsters Emilie Heymans and Blythe Hartley were beginning to make noise on the platform and Myriam Boileau began to hit her stride. Those three forced Montminy to raise her performance on her return to diving.
Montminy is ranked second in the world on the platform and Heymans, 18, is ranked fourth. They plan to team up for the synchronized diving event, which is new to the Games this year.
"I know a medal is a huge possibility," said Montminy. "I'm out there to win a medal, not just final or just to experience the Olympics. I've done that twice now."
She will be pushed by the Chinese and teammate Heymans, who have a more difficult list of dives.
"Anne doesn't have as high a degree of difficulty," said Canadian team coach Mitch Geller. "She has to nail everything."
Montminy did that at the Canadian trials in June despite having juggled training with preparation for her bar exams, which she wrote the week before the trials.
A typical day for her was diving for two hours before classes, going to school and then back to the pool for another three hours. Then it was home to study for another four.
"It was a 7-11 day five days a week," she said cheerfully. "My parents always told me to keep going to school because your diving career is not going to last forever.
"I always really felt that was important. From the time I was six years old, it was 'Go to school and go to diving.' I really didn't know anything else."
She will article for a corporate law firm in Montreral starting in January and she wants to go back to school for her masters degree eventually.
Platform divers take a beating every time they hit the water from a 10-metre height and injuries often shorten careers.
At 25, Montminy is one of the older platform divers, but she hasn't ruled out competing until the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
"Most people's life span is they get to 20 and go to three-metre," she explained. "I haven't had to take a year off for injury or anything.
"I'm petite. I think it's all genetic, the way I'm shaped. My arms are a lot bigger than the rest of my body. I think that helps."