McKay and Miller advance to women’s 10m final at World Cup in Montreal

Meanwhile, Montreal’s Cedric Fofana advanced to his first major final on the international stage.

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A year ago, Caeli McKay said her teammates on a young Canadian diving team called her “Grandma,” an unusual nickname when she was just 23 years old.

In fact, McKay’s younger colleagues see her as quite the opposite.

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“We like to joke with her and stuff, but we all agree that Caeli is 18 deep down,” said her partner Kate Miller, 18, while laughing alongside McKay earlier this week at the pool Montreal Olympics.

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Both divers advanced to Sunday’s women’s 10-meter platform final on Friday at the Aquatic Diving World Cup. Calgary-born McKay finished third (352.15) in the preliminary round, while Ottawa’s Miller placed 10th (308.05) to reach her first World Cup final.

McKay and Miller have already booked their tickets for this summer’s Paris Olympics in the 10-meter synchronized discipline. Canada has pre-qualified for an individual spot and could add another.

McKay, now 24, is considered a veteran despite her age (and apparent youthful energy) as a senior member of the national team since she was 13.

“I try to provide positivity and a little bit of experience and advice to whoever needs it,” McKay said. “I want to be the figure I needed when I was younger. That’s what I try to convey to everyone.”

Despite that, Miller easily forgets about the six-year age difference.

“She just likes to have a lot of fun like me and we have a similar humor,” Miller said. “She’s older, but deep down she’s the same age as me.”

McKay’s resume includes a fifth-place finish in the synchronized 10m alongside Meaghan Benfeito in 2021 at the Tokyo Games, where she performed despite severely tearing ankle ligaments before the event.

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After a long recovery, McKay returned to the international stage and captured her first world championship medal with a bronze last year.

Miller, a world junior gold medalist, moved to Montreal last fall to train full-time with McKay and is taking a gap year before heading to the University of Southern California.

The two jumpers competed as a synchronized 10-meter pair for the first time at the World Cup held last May in Montreal. This year, they return as an Olympic-bound duo after pre-qualifying with a sixth-place finish at the world championships last month.

“The more experience we have as a team, the better we will be,” McKay said. “You can see a lot of progression in the last year.”

Although they qualified, McKay described securing the quota spot as a “battle” due to a tough schedule at the worlds.

“Caeli’s triceps were affected by that,” said Diving Canada technical director Mitch Geller. “She couldn’t get into the water without splashing, her arms fell apart when she hit the water. “It was really hard.”

That’s where Miller stepped up.

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“She just nailed it. And this was a really tough qualifying event because the teams are so evenly matched,” Geller said. “Kate, at that point, came in and did everything you could ask of her.”

Miller carried that momentum into Friday, and when she emerged from the pool with a spot in the finals secured, McKay, who was part of the previous preliminary group, was there to greet her.

“She told me ‘good job, boy,'” Miller said. “I see her as the same age as me, but she’s an older sister, I’m honestly like a little sister to her, so I’m following in her footsteps.”

Fofana advances

Earlier on Friday, Montreal’s Cedric Fofana advanced to his first major final on the international stage.

Fofana, 20, placed tenth in the men’s three-meter springboard preliminary round with 387.75 points, just under six shy of his personal record (393.65), in front of friends and family.

“I’m very happy because I’ve been trying to qualify for a final for a long time and I didn’t always get the results I expected,” said Fofana, who placed 34th at worlds last month. “I am very proud to qualify with the best in the world for a final.”

Victoria’s Bryden Hattie missed the cut by finishing 13th (375.90), but could still appear in Sunday’s final if a top-12 jumper withdraws. Eloise Bélanger of Montreal placed 16th in the women’s 10 meters.

Fofana, Bélanger, Benjamin Tessier and Amelie-Laura Jasmin gave Canada a fifth-place finish (378.20) in the mixed team final to end the day. China captured gold (506.35), Great Britain won silver (438.05) and Australia took bronze (405.70).

On Saturday the finals of men’s synchronized three meters, women’s 10 meters synchronized, men’s 10 meters individual and women’s individual three meters will be held.

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