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Bouchard sets personal best to win gold at men's diving nationals

WINNIPEG - Maxim Bouchard nailed his six dives in the final to produce a personal best score and win the gold medal on the men's 10-metre tower on Sunday to conclude the summer nationals diving competition.

The St-Constant, Que. native scored more than 80 points on four of his six dives in the final to finish with 488.50, making him just the fifth Canadian diver in history to surpass the 480-point total.

Even though he was the defending champion, Bouchard's prospects for a victory seemed bleak heading into the final. On Friday, he scored just 295 points in the preliminaries and 405 points in the semis.

'"I stopped worrying about my competition and what scores I needed," said Bouchard, who needed 460 points on the final day to be eligible for nomination to the Commonwealth Games and FINA World Cup teams. The competition was also the final selection meet for those two events.

The highlight for Bouchard was landing his most difficult dive, a back three-and-a-half somersault in tuck position. He earned four 9.0's and three 8.5's from the judges for 87.45 points.

"It's a dive I struggled with in prelims and semis," he said. "It's an important dive for me if I want to have success. And today to land it and get on our national team is very satisfying."

Vincent Riendeau of Pointe-Claire, Que., totalled 447.10 for silver while Ethan Pitman of Edmonton took a surprise bronze with 416.60.

On women's 10-metre tower, Meaghan Benfeito of Montreal also successfully defended her Canadian title with a personal best 414.30 points to crack the 400-point barrier for the first time in her career. Only four-time Olympic medallist Emilie Heymans has scored higher for Canada.

"I've worked a lot on my entries," said Benfeito. "The objective is to make as little splash as possible like the Chinese. Today all my dives were solid in the final. My last one could have been better but I'll take that score for now."

Roseline Filion of Laval, Que., was second at 364.25 and Carol-Ann Ware of Beloeil, Que., third at 325.10.

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