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Caeli McKay leads young Canadian diving team into Paris Olympics

After just missing out on a medal at the Tokyo Games, Caeli McKay will look to stand on the Olympic podium for the first time when she leads a young Canadian diving team this summer in Paris. McKay competes during the women's 10m platform final at the World Aquatics Diving World Cup 2024 in Montreal, Sunday, Mar. 3, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

TORONTO — After just missing out on a medal at the Tokyo Games, Caeli McKay will look to stand on the Olympic podium for the first time when she leads a young Canadian diving team this summer in Paris.

The 24-year-old from Calgary was among five athletes named to the team Wednesday by Diving Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee.

McKay and partner Meaghan Benfeito finished fourth in the 10-metre synchro event in Tokyo.

It was a comeback performance from McKay, who sustained a serious ankle injury at the Canadian Olympic trials shortly before the games. She withdrew from the individual 10-metre competition in Tokyo to focus on the synchro event, but is slated to dive in both competitions in Paris.

“This is a big step forward for me,” said McKay. “I missed the last Olympic trials because of an ankle injury. Over the last three years, I’ve worked really hard to get to this place, which I’ve been aiming for almost 20 years. I’m really excited.”

McKay comes into the Olympics off a successful year in 2023. She won her first world aquatics championship medal — a bronze in the individual 10m platform --- before winning bronze at the 2023 Pan American Games in the same event.

Her partner in the synchro event at these games will be 19-year-old Kate Miller of Ottawa, who will make her Olympic debut. McKay and Miller combined to finish sixth at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, in February to qualify for the Olympics.

On the World Cup circuit, McKay and Miller won silver at the Super Final in both 2023 and 2024.

Margo Erlam, Rylan Wiens and Nathan Zsombor-Murray were also named to the Olympic squad.

Erlam, a 22-year-old from Calgary, is making her Olympic debut and will compete in the women's three-metre springboard.

She had a breakout year in 2022 when she won 3m synchro gold with Mia Vallée at the Diving Grand Prix in Calgary. The pair then finished fifth at the worlds and won bronze at the Commonwealth Games.

The 22-year-old Wiens, from Saskatoon, and 21-year-old Zsombor-Murray, from Pointe-Claire, Que., return for a second Olympics. Both participated in the individual 10m in Tokyo but did not advance to the final. Zsombor-Murray and Vincent Riendeau finished fifth in the 10m synchro.

Wiens and Zsombor-Murray will compete in the individual 10m and team up for the synchro event in Paris. They made history in 2022 when they became the first Canadians to ever win a medal in the men’s 10m synchro event at the World Aquatics Championships, diving to bronze in Budapest, Hungary.

They went on to win silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the 2023 Pan Am Games and the 2024 World Cup stop in Berlin, Germany.

Individually, Wiens returned from injury to place fifth in the men’s 10m platform at the 2024 world championships. He followed up with a silver medal at the World Cup in Berlin.

Zsombor-Murray won 10m platform silver at the 2023 Pan Am Games and fourth at the 2023 World Cup Super Final.

The athletes qualified based on their performances last month at the Canadian diving trials in Windsor, Ont.

The Canadian team is in a transition phase, with longtime team members Benfeito and Jennifer Abel retiring after the Tokyo Games.

Diving will take place July 27 to Aug. 10 at the Aquatics Centre.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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