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Canadian Olympic diver Benfeito pulls out of U.S. Grand Prix

Meaghan Benfeito, of Canada, performs during the women's 10-meter platform semifinals at the USA Diving Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Friday, May 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Alan Diaz/AP

Divers are intrepid by nature in their sport, but cautious when it comes to their bodies.

Two weeks before Olympic trials and 11 weeks before the Games, Meaghan Benfeito of Montreal withdrew from a diving meet in Ft. Lauderdale Fla., for what were termed "precautionary measures."

Benfeito, 23, pulled out of Sunday's women's 10-metre tower final. She said in in a twitter message that her triceps were bothering her and wanted to make sure she is in top condition for the Olympic trials. Those trials, in the Olympic pool are May 25-27.

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Benfeito is one of Canada's busiest divers, competing not only in the solo platform event but also partnering Laval's Roseline Filion in synchro diving. On Saturday, Filion and Benfeito collected their sixth international medal in eight events this season with a second place finish in the women's 10-metre synchro at the U.S., Grand Prix diving competition. It was one of few Grand Prix diving events contested outside and the Canadians were bothered by high winds.

"It was really hard for the divers today to stay concentrated," said Benfeito. "We had a terrible warm-up but we were determined to not let the wind affect our diving in the competition. We were told we look like the team that had the best control out there on our dives."

Reuben Ross of Regina took fifth spot on Sunday on men's three-metre. Christopher Colwill of the U.S., won the gold medal with 475.30 points edging Shixin Li of China in second at 474.95. Alejandro Daniel Islas Arroyo of Mexico was third at 445.50. Ross was in the medal hunt and finished with 436.50.

Ross' best dives -- scoring more then eight points -- were his forward three and a half and reverse three and half.


Canada's three-time world women's boxing champ, Mary Spencer of Windsor, Ont., is on a collision course at the 2012 championships in Qinhuangdao, China, with the only woman who has beaten her in two years, U.S. teen Claressa Shields of Flint, Mich.

Spencer goes to the ring Monday against Sweden's former AIBA world champion, 32-year-old Anna Laurell, an experienced boxer competing in her sixth worldwide event. Shields, the 17-year-old Pan American Champion – as opposed to Canada's Pan American Games champ, Spencer -- was too strong for India's Asian Championships silver medalist Pooja Rani, outpointing her 27-10. Shields next meets England's AIBA World Championships silver medalist Savannah Marshall.

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Simon Whitfield and Kyle Jones took another step forward in securing three spots for Canada in men's triathlon at the London Olympics keeping up with a fast pace to finish in the top-15 at the second stop of the World Triathlon Series in San Diego, Calif.

Friends and training partners, Victoria's 36-year-old, two-time Olympic medalist, Whitfield, clocked an 11th-place time of 1 hour 49 minutes 44 seconds, while the 27-year-old Jones, of Oakville, Ont., matched his career-best elite triathlon finish after crossing the line in 12th spot at 1:49:46.

"People are running for their lives. It is make or break for them so its very deceptive right now," Whitfield said. "It was a good race. I was a bit of a one-gear wonder, so the next three months will be about finding acceleration speed."

Whitfield and Jones were two of four Canadians that dove into Mission Bay with 70 of the world's best triathletes fighting for Olympic spots. After a solid 1.5-kilometre swim, Whitfield, Jones and Victoria's Brent McMahon worked the chase pack to bridge their way to a lead group of riders on the third lap of the 40-kilometre bike portion of the race, setting themselves up for the run.

"This is a four year plan that has come down to months," Jones said. "Every hour of training counts now and it comes down to who wants it more."

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"There are fights within the fights out there right now. Simon (Whitfield) is fighting for his fourth Olympics and I am giving everything I have to get my first," said Jones.

Britain's Jonathan Brownlee left the top athletes on the globe to battle amongst themselves for a ticket to his home country for the 2012 Games as he ran away from the field with a golden time of 1:48:47.

Brent McMahon, 31, who controlled the pack of more than 30 athletes for most of the bike course, struggled on the 10-kilometre run to place 29th at 1:50:23. Victoria's Andrew Russell rounded out the Canadian contingent in 54th with a time of 1:53:39.


Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, BC (Team Luna Pro), Emily Batty of Brooklin, ON (Team Subaru-Trek) and Marie-Hélène Prémont of Chateau Richer, QC all crossed the finish line of the UCI Mountain World Cup in Czech Republic within the top 10.

Pendrel came in sixth in the 25.5-kilometre race, crossing the line with a time of 1:30.27. Olympic medalist Prémont cracked the top 10 for the first time this season, rolling in ninth position, followed immediately by Emily Batty.

French rider Julie Bresset took the victory, and now wears the over all UCI World Cup leader's jersey, dethroning Pendrel. Batty was bumped from fourth to fifth, while Prémont jumped up to the thirteenth position.

In the men's race, Max Plaxton of Victoria B.C., was the fastest of the Canadian crew, taking the fourteenth place by completing the 29.96-km course with a time of 1:29.18. Olympian and seven-time Canadian champion Geoff Kabush of Courtenay, BC (Scott-3RoxRacing) took the 18th rank.

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup tour will now moves to La Bresse, in France, for the last UCI Olympic qualifying event.

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About the Author
Sports reporter

James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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