NEWS
06/13/2016 16:54 EDT | Updated 06/14/2017 01:12 EDT

Canadian women divers have sights set on medals at 2016 Rio Olympics

MONTREAL — Team leader Mitch Geller believes that all four women on Canada's Olympic diving squad have the talent to win medals at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

He is not making predictions, but said at least a 50 per cent success rate for medals is a realistic goal for a women's team that won a pair of bronzes at the 2012 Games in London.

"Every one of our ladies has the ability to win a medal in the synchronized and individual events," Geller said Monday as the six-member team was announced at Olympic House. "Our boys are capable of top-12 (placings) to set themselves up for a podium (at the 2020 Games)."

He got no argument from the team, which combines veterans Meaghan Benfeito, Roseline Filion and Jennifer Abel, who all list Laval, Que., as their hometown, with first-time Olympians Pamela Ware of Greenfield Park, Que., Philippe Gagne of Mount Royal, Que., and Vincent Riendeau of Pointe Claire, Que.

"It's realistic but we're going to have to work really hard for it," said Benfeito. "Everyone's working hard. We're going into Rio with no regrets."

In 2012, Benfeito and Filion won bronze in the 10-metre synchro event while Abel took bronze in the three-metre synchro competition with the now-retired Emilie Heymans.

They got a look at the Rio Olympic pool during a World Cup meet in February, where Abel won bronze off the springboard and teamed with Ware for silver in the synchro event.

"I can't wait to see it all dressed up for the Olympics," said Ware.

Geller called it the "most dedicated and focused" Canadian diving team he has seen. 

"I don't know if we're the most focused, but we are the team that has the most fun," said Benfeito, 27, who has been on the squad for more than a decade. "I've been to two Olympics with Alex (Despatie) and Emilie and you can't say they're not focused.

"They were both multi-medallists. But having us (veterans) on the team and with the younger ones is a good mix. We enjoy it, but when it comes time to compete, we give it everything we have."

The six team members won a combined 37 medals at seven international competitions this year.

Maxim Bouchard and Francois Imbeau-Dulac were named as alternates and may get a chance to compete in Rio if spots open up in the individual springboard and tower events.

The team will train at both indoors and outdoor facilities in Montreal before heading to preparation camps in July in Rome and Brasilia.