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Pains No Effects on Love of Diving
VANCOUVER -- The growing
pains may have gnawed away at his confidence but
they couldn't devour Alexandre Despatie's love of diving.
Despatie still has that mixture of teenage simplicity and adult dedication
he showed in September 1998 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when at 13
the youngest person to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
To him diving is fun. It's a big game, a vehicle to travel the world
make new friends. Fuelled by that attitude, he seems genuinely surprised
that his success could foster jealously or resentment from anyone.
"I don't know why I'm good, I don't know why I can dive like
I do," said
the Laval, Que., native, who won the men's 10-metre title this weekend
the Canadian winter national diving championships.
"But what ever happens I hope people aren't going to change toward
Despatie, 14, has grown six inches and gained 30 pounds since the
Commonwealth Games. For him, adjusting to his new height and weight,
like somebody struggling to fit into a new pair of shoes.
"Everything was harder, everything was slower," said Despatie,
a hint of a
moustache showing on his smooth upper lip.
"I just couldn't do the dives."
What was once so easy suddenly became hard. For the first time in
Despatie had to struggle with what once came naturally.
"There were really hard moments when you're just desperate,"
he said. "You
can't do anything. Even though you try it just doesn't work. Nothing
His coach, Michel Larouche, told Despatie he was straining with something
everyone experiences. Don't get frustrated, he explained, just learn
the mistakes. And above all, remember why you dive.
"I've always loved diving, so even though it goes bad or if it
I think I'll be there all the time," Despatie said.
"I shouldn't be scared of being bad or being good after my growing
because I love doing it. I'm just doing it to have fun and meet some
Despatie showed he was back in form at the weekend competition. He
647.58 points, just 35 off his Canadian record, to win his third national
championship. He was awarded several nines on three of his dives in
"I maintained a positive attitude and that's why I was able to
mistakes and still post a very good performance," he said.
Mitch Geller, national team head coach, said it's unrealistic to expect
Despatie to win a medal at this fall's Olympic Games in Sydney.
"What we would love, if he could get a top eight or top six even,
is capable of doing, and he is one track for that," Geller said.
"We will be more than happy with that."
Despatie is a popular figure at meets. He's the person everyone knows
says hello to.
"It's really enjoyable," he grinned.
While Despatie is Canada's best tower diver he isn't burdened with
arrogance or over-confidence. He's very aware he must qualify for
Olympic team during a June meet in Montreal.
"I think a lot about Sydney these days," he said. "Every
think about Sydney. I don't take it for granted. I know I can get
anybody here in Canada. I still have to do the dives. I still have
to make the team."