It felt a little like the Olympics at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre this weekend. Nearly 20 medalists from the Rio Olympics were on hand to compete in the FINA/NVC Diving World Series, including fan favourite Tom Daley from Great Britain.
The World Series featured about 70 divers competing in 10 events — the women’s and men’s 3m springboard, 10m platform, 3m springboard synchro and 10m platform synchro.
Windsor was the final leg of the FINA Diving World Series, which itself is a four-part annual competition featuring many athletes who have won medals at the Olympics and world championships.
The Aquatic Centre was buzzing as the crowd, which mostly packed into the side of the arena where the actually diving occurred, cheered on countries like China and hometown Canada. Meanwhile individual divers like Daley, Xie Siyi, Chen Aisen and Cao Yuan received a lot of attention and cheers throughout their dives.
In the end, Canada walked away with three Silver medals from the competition, including Women’s 3m springboard synchro (Melissa Citrini Beaulieu and Jennifer Abel), Mixed 3m springboard synchro (Francois Imbeau-Dulac and Jennifer Abel) and Mixed 10m platform synchro (Meaghan Benfeito and Vincent Riendeau).
The diving was about as good as it gets. You could feel the tension as Chen Aisen got into a handstand position to tear into a near perfect dive. That single event changed the entire pace of the Men’s 10m platform and upped everyone’s game. It also propelled him into first place, where he remained until he finished several dives later.
A total of $120,000 US in prize money was awarded across the 10 individual and synchro events in Windsor, additionally, FINA also handed out a grand prize pool of $870,000 to the top divers in the World Series chase, which ended here with the Windsor event.
Although the competition has received a bit of criticism on the Internet, it was staged and felt no different than other International sporting competitions held at other cities in Canada. The only difference was that there was no giant Grey Cup party or no Stanley Cup parade – it was serious water-based sports for lovers of serious water-based sports. From a general non-diving spectator perspective, the diving was as good as it gets, the venue was set up perfectly for the event, ticket prices were affordable and the event was fun to watch.
In a year where Ottawa is bringing home the big events: Canada’s 150th Celebration, the Juno Awards and 105th Grey Cup, Windsor has fared well with the FINA Diving World Series and upcoming Memorial Cup all in the same year. For Canada’s 16th largest city, that’s something to be proud of – and it shows a little incline as Windsor slowly works its way into the world of tourism and world-class event hosting. It’s not only about building a reputation around the world, it’s also about rebuilding a much-needed ego to a recession torn city that really is one of the best places to live in Canada
Windsor needs to sit back and enjoy incredible events like the FINA Diving World Series and wear its “YQG” proudly.
Photo of Tom Daley from FINA Diving World Series website.