NEWS
07/23/2011 06:30 EDT | Updated 09/22/2011 05:12 EDT

Canada's Jennifer Abel takes bronze in three-metre diving at world championships

SHANGHAI - Canada's Jennifer Abel finished third Saturday to take bronze in three-metre diving at the world championships.

The Laval, Que., native finished with 365.10 points after posting an 11th-place finish in Rome two years ago.

SHANGHAI - Canada's Jennifer Abel finished third Saturday to take bronze in three-metre diving at the world championships.

The Laval, Que., native finished with 365.10 points after posting an 11th-place finish in Rome two years ago.

"After two years and all the work that I've done with my coach, everyone can see that I've improved," Abel said on a conference call. "Today I showed everybody that I can control my (dives) and I got the bronze medal."

Wu Mingxia held off teammate He Zi by 1.7 points for first to lead China its ninth gold medal and 13th overall at the outdoor pool.

"It's not easy to win the gold medal," Wu said. "Overall, I did better than in the semifinal and prelims. I have overcome many difficulties in the past year. My next goal is to qualify for the London Olympics and then win the gold there."

Abel was happy with the third-place finish in hostile conditions.

"Today my competition is the greatest of the year, and it is also the hardest one because I started off between two Chinese divers," said Abel, who was second after the semifinal. "But I focused on the game."

Back in 2009, Abel was also second after the semis and tumbled to 11th in the final

"This was the hardest competition I've ever been involved in," said Abel, who was competing outdoors for the only the fourth time in her career. "But today I showed all the hard work I've put into it has really paid. I was able to manage my stress really well and that helped me improve a lot."

While she put the heat on her Chinese opponents at this competition, it's not a factor Abel dwells on.

"The main objective for a diver is to improve every time out," she said. "But today I proved a lot of things."

Emilie Heymans of St-Lambert, Que., the silver medallist two years ago in Rome, was last in the 12-woman field. She badly missed her third dive when he feet hit the water and struggled on her fourth dive before closing out the round with a big splash on her last dive.

"Today was not a really good day. I missed pretty much all of my dives," Heymans said. "I just have to take a step back figure out why it didn't go so well."

By reaching the finals, Heymans and Abel earned two spots for Canada in the event at next summer's Olympic Games.

China could complete its first sweep of the gold medals at worlds Sunday. Qio Bo was the top qualifier heading into the men's 10-meter final.

Victoria's Riley McCormick qualified eighth, while Edmonton's Eric Sehn was 18th and did not advance.

Wu totalled 380.85 points in the five-dive round Saturday, while He finished with 379.15 despite a foot injury she sustained two months ago. Earlier, they teamed to win the springboard synchro title.

"I'm happy with the silver," He said. "I made the same mistake as in the semifinals. Actually, my leg injury was not a concern."

It was Wu's first individual springboard title after being runner-up in 2005 and '07. She didn't compete in the event two years ago in Rome. In the Olympics, Wu won silver medals on springboard in '04 and '08. The 25-year-old was competing in her sixth world meet.

He led after two rounds before Wu took over the top spot for good. Wu was a model of consistency, slipping into the water with barely a splash despite He being in close pursuit.

In the third round, He's feet weren't straight upon entry, which cost her the lead. She was fourth in Rome.

Recently retired NBA star Yao Ming attended the final and signed autographs. The Chinese fans appeared nearly as interested in snapping photos of him with newly grown facial hair as they were in cheering on Wu and He.