Four months after Jennifer Abel, another leading figure in Canadian diving is stepping down.
Posted at 5:00 a.m.
As her teammates prepare to return to competition in Saskatoon, tower specialist Meaghan Benfeito will announce her retirement on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Montrealer has won three Olympic medals, which ranks her second in Canadian history behind the one who inspired her when she started out in sport, Émilie Heymans, who has four.
She achieved her greatest feat when she reached the podium twice at the Rio Games in 2016, winning bronze in the 10m individual and in the 10m synchronized with her partner Roseline Filion. She also won bronze in synchro in London in 2012, again with Filion.
The retirement of her eternal accomplice in 2016 led her to a new synchro teammate, Albertan Caeli McKay, 10 years her junior. The duo ended up at the foot of the podium at the last Tokyo Games in 2021, when McKay suffered a foot injury four weeks before the competition.
On the individual platform, Benfeito had a disappointment in Japan, ranking 13and and missing the final by one place. Destroyed on the spot, she had refused to speculate on her future, nevertheless opening the door to a final season.
“I don’t want to end up like this,” she said after the semi-final. But at the same time, my body needs rest. »
She first wanted to talk with her trainer Arturo Miranda, who has since been replaced by the Chinese Hui Tong, who runs the national training center located at the Institut national du sport du Québec, at the Olympic Stadium.
The end of an era
In total, Benfeito participated in four Olympic Games. She placed seventh with Filion on her Beijing debut in 2008.
The Quebec pair first made a name for themselves by climbing to the third step of the podium at the FINA World Championships presented on Île Sainte-Hélène in the summer of 2005. She was only 16 years old at the time.
After several fourth places, Benfeito was crowned vice-world champion in the synchro tower with Filion in Barcelona in 2013, a feat repeated in Kazan in 2015. In Russia, she also won silver in the new mixed synchro event with Vincent Riendeau, also retired since the Tokyo Games.
Benfeito has won five World Cup medals, five at the Commonwealth Games and seven at the Pan American Games. Not to mention his multiple titles on the World Series and Grand Prix circuit.
His preparation for the Tokyo Games, postponed for a year, was clouded by the fire in his Mirabel condo six months before the event. She lost all of her possessions in the blaze, including her three Olympic medals.
Replicas of these medals were presented to him at a ceremony hosted by the Canadian Olympic Committee on June 8 at Olympic Park.
“It’s not the medals that I had put around my neck,” she said on this occasion. Still, I’d rather have it than not have it at all. If I give a lecture one day, I can at least bring some and explain exactly why these are medals that I received and not those that I won. It’s part of the story. »
She had made it her mission to bring some back from Tokyo “to celebrate even more”, but the competition did not go as she had hoped.
After more than a quarter of a century of diving, Benfeito is putting away his jersey. In the past, she has mentioned a desire to work with her twin sisters, who are daycare educators.
His departure marks the end of an era for Canadian diving. Benfeito was the teammate of Alexandre Despatie, Heymans, Filion, Abel, Blythe Hartley, Marie-Ève Marleau and even Miranda. Pamela Ware, 29, is now the only active diver who made the Olympic team in 2016.