Hey, a medal's a medal
By CHRIS STEVENSON -- SLAM! Sports
SYDNEY -- So, Canada won a silver medal in sychronized diving.
It's one of the new sports in the Olympics, a new sport in which even the judges don't quite seem to be sure what's going on half the time.
A new sport where you barely practice, only have to perform five dives against duos from just seven other countries and it's over in 50 minutes. Even the Canadian divers and officials shook their heads when it became an Olympic sport.
But with the way these Games have gone for Canada, who are we to turn up our noses at any medal?
"I can't complain," said Anne Montminy or Pointe Claire, Que., who, along with Emilie Heymans of Greenfield Park, Que., won silver in the women's 10-metre platform synchro event Thursday. "For the amount of time and effort we put into it. To get a silver medal...I can't complain."
The silver made Montminy, 25, Canada's first double medalist of the Games as she added to the bronze she won in the individual tower event Sunday. Canada has now won nine medals - two gold, two silver and five bronze.
Montminy and Heymans, 18, have only practised twice a week for 90 minutes for the last six weeks or so.
Montminy and Heymans dive out of different clubs in Montreal, so they had to go back and forth to each other's facilities.
After they had competed the individual event Sunday, in which Montminy won the bronze, they showed up at practise in -- gasp -- bathing suits that didn't match.
"It was kind of funny," said Montminy. "We showed up in different bathing suits and we were both kind of tired because our individual event was the night before. The other divers were like, 'what's wrong with you?'" said Montminy. "But we did work hard the last few days."
If you got the sense, the Canadians didn't take this event too, too seriously, you were right. They laughed after dives. There were big smiles.
There was a sense they were actually having fun, a concept that seems to escaped most competitors in these Games.
But there was also an underlying desire. The Chinese are far and away the dominant force in women's diving and the Canadians had pretty much conceded them the gold in this event.
But after that...
"It's still an Olympic medal," said Heymans, who was fifth in the individual event. "We knew we could do it. We just had to do it.
"When you're diving, you've got to have fun. If you're always mad, it's not going to work, at least not for me. This way, the stress was spread on two shoulders."
Heymans had shown a lot of class in the individual event when she made the effort of congratulate Montminy on her bronze despite nursing her own disappointment.
Montminy promised her they'd get a medal in the synchro event.
"She wanted it and I knew we could it," said Montminy. "I was hungry and she was, too."
The Chinese duo of Na Li and Xue Sang won the gold with a total of 345.12 points to 312.03 for the Canadians. Australians Rebecca Gilmore and Loudy Tourky were third with 301.50.
The Canadians had one scary moment when they slipped to fifth after their second dive, an inward 1-1/2 somersault for Heymans and a forward 1-1/2 somersault for Montminy, but they worked their way back up to third after the third round and second after the fourth.
For Montminy, who felt like she let gold slip out of her hands in the individual event, Thursday's outcome was satisfying.
"The Chinese were way better than we were," she said.
"They were practising for two years and we've been practising for a month and half. We earned our second spot. The Chinese were better than us. Maybe we could have done better, but we also could have done a lot worse. We could have come eighth or first, anywhere in that range."
That kind of uncertainty is expected in a new sport.
Nobody knows the lay of the land that well, including the judges. After the fourth dive by the Mexican pair, the marks for execution ranged from 2.5 to 7.5.
"It's a new sport," said Montminy. "The judges don't really know what's happening either."
But like Heymans said, a medal's a medal.