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MEAGHAN BENFEITO CLAIMS FIRST OLYMPIC DIVING QUALIFICATION AT LIMA 2019

The diving star from Canada dazzled the crowd with her precise high dives on an unforgettable night in the Lima 2019 Aquatics Center.

Meaghan Benfeito had been there before. Standing atop the 10-meter high dive platform at the brand new Aquatics Center of Lima 2019, she tuned out the sea of fans and focused on the difficult task at hand – securing a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

At the last two Pan American Games of Guadalajara 2011 and Toronto 2015, Benfeito reached the podium in the 10-meter platform event, earning a bronze at each of those Games.

But on August 3 in the Peruvian capital, another bronze medal would not be her story. With five outstanding dives totaling 375.05 points, Benfeito dominated the competition at the Pan American Games to win her first individual gold medal in history.

She beat everyone in the competition by at least 10 points, including Canadian teammate Caeli McKay who earned the silver and Alejandra Orozco of Mexico who won the bronze.

More than just a gold medal, the victory sends Meaghan directly to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year. Tokyo will be her third Olympic Games where she’ll also be seeking the first Olympic gold of her career. She earned bronze medals in the 10m Synchronized Platform competition at London 2012 and Rio 2016, while also adding a bronze in the individual 10m Platform event in Rio de Janeiro.

While she led the competition through all five dives, the fifth and final round would be the deciding factor for the two other medalists.

McKay scored an amazing and best-of-the-round 84.80 in her fifth dive, ensuring Team Canada would have two medalists atop the podium. Orozco’s steady jumps throughout the competition helped her walk away with a bronze.

Three more divers will directly qualify to Tokyo 2020 during the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games, with the gold medalists of the Men’s 10m Platform, Men’s 3m Springboard and Women’s 3m Springboard all earning a place in the Games next year in Japan. The finals of these events will be held from August 4-5.