Fewer than four years ago, diver Émilie Heymans stepped off a plane from Beijing with an Olympic silver medal in her hand. Greeted at the airport by a crowd of family, friends and well-wishers, the most decorated Canadian diver in Olympic history was welcomed home as a hero. Three Olympic appearances; three Olympic medals; one bronze and two silvers. For a Canadian diver the 26-year-olds success was unprecedented. But Heymans was never one to rest on her laurels. She smiled at the cameras, posed for a few photos with her parents, gathered her bags, and returned home. She returned to training and, within a few months, began changing everything. Dont mess with success might be the phrase that comes to mind. But for Heymans, a 10-metre platform specialist with almost every honour in the diving event, change seemed natural. It may have even been necessary. "I felt like I had reached my maximum potential in the 10m," the St. Lambert, Que., athlete explained in a recent interview with CTVOlympics.ca, "but I didnt feel like I wanted to retire from diving." Heymans had some experience in the platforms sister event, the 3m springboard, competing at both heights at the Athens 2004 Olympics; however she never had much international success on the lower board. Following a 10th-place individual finish in Athens, she had stopped training her 3m dives altogether. Post-Beijing, she gave the springboard another look. "I felt like I could do so much more than what I did before in 3m," she said. "After Beijing I was like, oh well, lets give it [another] try. See what happens." Less than a year later, Heymans had her answer. At the 2009 World Championships in Rome, Heymans won the silver medal in the womens individual 3m. It was her first world podium finish since she won the 10m title in 2003. Two years later she continued her success at the 2011 Worlds, tacking on another silver -- this one in the synchronized 3m with diving partner Jennifer Abel. With the finish, Heymans and Abel also earned an Olympic berth for Canada at the London 2012 Games. Both divers added further spots for Canada in the individual 3m events. To the casual viewer, the difference between the 10m platform and the 3m springboard may not be immediately evident. Jump, twist, spin, and try not to splash -- the diving process looks the same regardless of the height. But at 30, Heymans insists the two events are apples to oranges. "Everything in the 3m is different from the 10m," she said. "Even if its still diving, its like its a different sport. Its not everybody that can be good at tower (10m) and at 3m. Some people never do tower and some people never do 3m. "Its way harder to be consistent in the 3m because theres way more opportunity to make a mistake. At the beginning, my legs would get so tired, so easily. Its a different hurdle than what Im used to. 3m is way harder on your legs." Diving Canadas chief technical officer, Mitch Geller, has seen many divers make the switch during his time with the organization, including two-time Olympic medallist Alexandre Despatie. Despatie was a world champion at the 10m event before he started winning Olympic medals off the springboard. Some athletes, Geller says, have what it takes to make the change successfully. Others do not. "Air sense. Orientation. Knowing up and down. If you can do that on platform, you can do it on springboard," Geller said. "A lot of people -- most of them -- youll see that theyre lacking that. But its very rare that Émilie wouldnt know up from down, that she wouldnt know where the water is. And thats a huge advantage. "She is [also] one of the most tenacious people Ive ever seen," Geller continued. "If she wants to do a certain dive and its not working for her, shell take bruises every day and she doesnt lose faith. She goes, I just need more [practice]." Heymans tenacity at practice has been repaid with regular podium appearances. Most recently, she won a silver medal with Abel in the synchronized event at Februarys World Cup in the Olympic Aquatics Centre in London. Should she repeat the feat off the same board this summer, she will become the first female diver to earn a medal in four consecutive Olympic Games. For her part, Heymans tries not to think about that possibility. After her events had finished in February, she returned to the stands to watch her teammates compete. Asked what it would feel like to set the record, she cut off the end of the question. "I dont know. "Its not really what drives me. I dont think about it every single day. Of course it would be awesome, but--" she paused long enough to watch a mens competitor spring off the Olympic diving board, then slip smoothly into the water 3m below. "Ill see after. If it happens." Émilie Heymans is currently in Beijing, China, for the second leg of the FINA Diving World Series. She will compete Friday in the 3m synchronized springboard event with diving partner Jennifer Abel. For Twitter updates, follow @CTVOlympics. cheap jerseys china
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. Negotiators reached an understanding when they met late Thursday at the InterContinental OHare in Rosemont, Ill., a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.SOELDEN, Austria - If skiings opening weekend was any indication, the United States is in for quite an Olympic season. Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin, Bode Miller and Tim Jitloff underlined the squads enormous potential on the Rettenbach glacier in Austria. "Im really happy with how things are going," U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml said. "The coaches and staff did an unbelievable job getting the athletes ready." And with Lindsey Vonn planning to return in a month from right knee surgery and Julia Mancuso always a threat on a big stage, the Americans could surpass their eight medals from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics at the Sochi Games, which run Feb. 7-23. "Everything is going on track," Riml said. "Im feeling confident with our whole setup." Ligety won the opening giant slalom for the third consecutive year. The 18-year-old Shiffrin matched her career-best World Cup result in the discipline with a sixth-place finish. Miller marked his return from 20 months off by placing 19th after starting outside the top 30. Jitloff was 20th with one big error that probably cost him about 10 positions. Perhaps the only negative note was Mancuso finishing 27th. But Mancuso always seems to save her best for major championships, as evidenced by her gold medal in giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Games and two silvers in Vancouver. "Julia is always showing she does well at the big events," former U.S. mens head coach Phil McNichol said. "Lindsey is Lindsey. Ted is coming off three (gold) medals at the world championships. Bodes back in the mix. Mikaela is going to be a force to be reckoned with. So its going to be a very interesting Olympic cycle." Ligety dominated giant slalom last season, winning six of eight races on the World Cup plus the world championship race in Schladming, Austria, where he was also a surprise winner in super-G and super-combined. "Last year we had an awesome prep here but this year was less so, so I wasnt 100 per cent confident of how I was skiing," Ligety said. "But then we had good training here in Soelden and the last couple of weeks I started to feel a little better. Its nice to have some confirmation." Ligety is enjoying having his childhood friend and former junior world downhill champion Adam Cole on the coaching staff this season. "We grew up together," Ligety said. "Hes also young and athletic so he can do dry-land with us and we can go play other sports and push each other." Shiffrin dominated in slalom last season with four wins plus the world title and now looks like a two-event threat with her giant slalom vastly improved. After the Olympics, Shiffrin could expand into the speed events. Shiffrin is also maturing off the hilll.dddddddddddd Her mother, who has accompanied her in Europe for the past two seasons, said this is probably the last season shell be there. "I may not have to stay here as she keeps getting more and more comfortable," Eileen Shiffrin said. Shiffrin has improved so much in GS that she was beating male teammates in training the past couple of weeks. Which guys was she beating? Thats still a secret. "Shiffrin was skiing unbelievably fast," mens head coach Sasha Rearick said. "Im not going to tell you." As for the 36-year-old Miller — yes, hes twice Shiffrins age — his new slimmer frame appears to be paying off. The two-time overall World Cup winner lost nearly 30 pounds during his season off to recover from left knee surgery. Miller skied to 13th place with the No. 32 bib in the opening run and was able to hang on in the second leg. "I wasnt tired at all," Miller said. "I think my fitness is higher now for a World Cup than its ever been. Im snappy and springy and I can go as long as the courses are. ... Theres obviously some lack of inertia, some weight, but I dont think thats going to be an issue." If Miller already has his form back in giant slalom, he could really excel in the speed events of downhill and super-G, where hes had nearly all of his wins in recent years. "GS was the one event where we hadnt been able to put the most volume in because it was causing some more knee irritation," Rearick said. "So if hes been able to do what hes done this week, its beyond my expectations." Millers fitness should also get a boost from the speed teams newly hired conditioning coach, Tony Beretzki, an Austrian who once worked with Hermann Maier and Stephan Eberharter and spent the last four years with the Spartak Moscow soccer team. With Miller out last season, downhillers Marco Sullivan, Steven Nyman and Travis Ganong each had solid starts, but their conditioning dropped off around January. "He has brought a great, great program and is doing an awesome job," Rearick said. The womens speed team, meanwhile, is coming off a record-breaking season that included podium finishes not just for Vonn and Mancuso, but also for Stacey Cook, Alice McKennis, Leanne Smith and Laurenne Ross. The bar of expectations has been raised for Cook & Co. this season. "You definitely want to back up those results," womens head coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. "You want to be contenders with all of those girls on a regular basis." The speed teams dont race until events in Lake Louise, Alberta, and Beaver Creek, Colo., on Thanksgiving weekend. Next up are slaloms in Levi, Finland, Nov. 16-17. ___ Follow Andrew Dampf at http://twitter.com/asdampf ' ' '