By Martin Boyce
Henry McKay has won a lot of diving prizes since a young age, but May marked the biggest month yet for the Nepean-Ottawa Diving Club athlete.
The 17-year-old made his FINA Grand Prix series debut in Puerto Rico from May 4-7, and then qualified for the Canada Summer Games through the Dive Ontario Summer Provincials May 19-21 in Toronto.
Competing for Canada at the senior international level was a long-time dream for McKay, who felt a pile of nerves heading into the biggest competition of his career thus far, his imagination running wild, thinking about what the moment would be like.
“It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be,” the Grade 11 St. Joseph Catholic High School student reflects. “It was really relaxed, and that helped with my performance.”
McKay exceeded his expectations for the Grand Prix, easily advancing through the men’s 3-metre springboard preliminary round in 8th place overall, and then missing the 6-man final by just one spot, finishing 4th in his semi-final group.
“When I got there, I didn’t even know if I was going to make it to semi-finals. I was able to jump way past that and I just felt really happy with my performance,” signals McKay, who is eyeing the 2017 Pan American junior championships and 2018 Youth Olympics as his next big international competitions.
McKay followed up his Grand Prix performance with a medal in each event in the men’s open category at the Provincials, earning 1 m silver, 3 m bronze and platform gold to secure his spot on Team Ontario for the July 28-Aug. 15 Canada Games in Winnipeg.
Ottawa National Diving Club athlete Emma Corrigan narrowly missed out on a Canada Games berth herself at just 14 years of age, selected instead as an alternate.
“It’s pretty big for me because I’m the youngest there,” she highlights. “It’s my first time trying out for Canada Games and being able to make it as one of the alternates is just amazing.”
Corrigan was dominant in her 14-15 age group at the Provincials, taking home gold in each of her three events.
“I was surprised with how well I was doing. When I won gold, I was just so happy,” she indicates, pleased to finally hit her dives consistently at provincials. “We’ve been working on consistency for awhile and to see that it’s finally paid off is just a huge accomplishment. It feels like you did something right for once.”
Several of Corrigan’s ONDC teammates scored provincial podium performances as well: Timothy Lewis (with 4 medals), Kathryn Grant (3), Catherine Boyer (3), and Audree Howes (3). Owen Lepinsky (3), Kate Miller (3), Victor Hearn (2), and Jacob Tremblay (1) all joined McKay as medalists from NODC.