Anne's swan song
By JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press
Montminy grabs bronze in final games as Chinese falter
SYDNEY -- Amid tears and Biblical recitations and a lot of other stuff not
normally associated with plunging head-first into a swimming pool, an
important statement was made early yesterday at the Olympic diving pool.
The Chinese dynasty in women's platform diving is over and coaches the
world over have reason for hope.
Okay, so it wasn't the end of the Ming Dynasty, but the Olympic champion in
the 10-metre event is not Chinese for the first time since the 1980 Moscow
Laura Wilkinson of the U.S. and Canadian Anne Montminy helped knock down
what has been the great wall of Chinese sports.
"It tells you everybody is human and if you decide to go to work and keep
on working, good things will happen," Canadian diving coach Mitch Geller said.
"Nobody gets a bye."
Wilkinson, with a little bible passage prior to each attempt, hit with a
sparkling fourth dive of the five-dive final while everyone else was average.
It was enough to put her less than two points ahead of China's Li Na, 543.75
to 542.01 for the Americans' first gold medal in the event since 1964.
Montminy of Pointe-Claire, Que., overcame nerves to win the bronze with
More than the excitement was a major shift in the world order of diving.
After the preliminaries and compulsories at this one, it looked like a one-two
finish for the Chinese.
But the North American connection knocked Sang Xue into fourth place.
For Montminy, it was a stylish way to go out after three Olympics. The
law-school graduate, whose nerves got the best of her in Atlanta four years
ago, will begin articling shortly.
"Yeah, I was very nervous before the event," said Montminy, the first
Canadian to win a 10-metre diving medal.
"I was afraid my body wouldn't do what I told it to. This whole Olympic
experience is a culmination of all my efforts. I felt I rose to the occasion."
Getting her to rise, Geller said, required that he turn up the pressure and
"I know that's the reverse of many coaches, but my idea is to keep the
pressure on," he said. "Why pretend it isn't there? Get them used to it."
Geller regularly reminded his divers -- including Emilie Heymans of
Montreal, who finished fifth -- that a lot of people would be watching at home
"Anne needs to be edgy and if it's not there, I create it," Geller said.
"She doesn't agree, but I've seen it for years now, if there isn't pressure
she finds way to create it for herself."
Montminy quit after her disappointment at Atlanta Olympics four years ago.
But after watching some diving, she asked Geller if he felt she could still do
"She's not blessed with great physical ability, her strength is her ability
to work hard," he said. "It was a great way to cap off a career, to put some
ghosts to bed." ON THE PODIUM
Laura Wilkinson, UNITED STATES
Li Na, CHINA
Anne Montminy, CANADA