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Canada Games Day 3
Thursday, August 23, 2001
Sask. diver says thanks to dad

DIVING

By RYAN PYETTE, Free Press Sports Reporter

He dived for gold, wowed the crowd and even shocked himself.

But the first thing Saskatchewan diver Aaron Wionzek did after winning the

gold in the men's one-metre final last night was give a big hug to the guy

who helped get him there -- his father and coach, Lorn.

"I just told him, 'We did it,' and 'Thanks,' " grinned the 18-year-old

Saskatoon native who topped Newfoundland's Adam Morgan (gold medallist in

Tuesday's three-metre final) by a whopping 20 points in the six-dive final

last night at the Canada Games Aquatic Centre. "Dad's been my coach forever.

"He stuck with me . . . My two older sisters got into diving, and then quit,

but I kept going.

"This is my first gold medal at a big, national event. I'm so stoked. I'm

going to wear this medal the whole rest of the week."

Proud dad Lorn will wear a smile for much longer than that.

About 15 years ago, Lorn's kids were in desperate need of a diving coach.

"We had this tiny diving program in Saskatoon and the diving coach we had

there cut my eldest daughter from the team," recalled Lorn, then a

volleyball coach who led the Saskatchewan team to gold at the 1987 Canada

Games. "I was mad, I told him, 'These kids want to dive, you don't know

kids', and he said, 'You don't know diving. If you know so much, why don't

you coach?'

"So I looked at him, and said, 'I will.' "

Now, Lorn's head coach of the Saskatoon Diving Club, his kid's a Canada

Games champion, and three of his divers have qualified for the Pan Am junior

worlds this year.

Still, Lorn has never attempted a dive in his life, and until his kids took

an interest in it, diving never even registered on his radar screen.

"Saskatoon's a hockey town," he said, "and I grew up playing that, football,

karate, baseball, volleyball.

"Diving was everything I wasn't.

"So to start coaching was a real paradigm shift for me."

Thankfully, his day job gave him a natural insight to the sport.

"I'm a high school physics teacher, and diving is really all about

biomechanics," said Lorn. "I understand that stuff, but Aaron understands

the emotional side of the sport.

"So sometimes, I'll tell him to do something, and he'll still say, 'Are you

sure about that, Dad?'

"You don't know diving.' "

Right from the beginning, Lorn worked to correct those shortcomings. He kept

an open mind and solicited advice from top Canadian coaches in Quebec and

Alberta

"Diving coaches are a close-knit group, and they were so good to help me,"

said Lorn.

"Aaron works very hard, he wanted to do this, and he needed a coach.

"It's been great. I get to watch my son, and coach, too. It's a lot of fun."

But he still won't try it.

"I always thought the scariest thing would be a 250-pound guy coming to hit

you while you're carrying a football," grinned Lorn, "but Aaron says

standing on top of that 10-metre tower is way scarier than that."

Men's tower goes today at the aquatic centre.

In women's 10-metre tower action last night, Quebec's Mariane Allaire Morin

stunned Ottawa's Laura Knowles by vaulting to the top of the podium with a

competition-ending reverse 2 1/2 somersault that one judge deemed to be a

perfect 10.

Heading into their fifth and final dive, the two rivals were separated by

just one point.

"She got a 10 she didn't deserve," said the candid 18-year-old Knowles, the

tower specialist who was fifth at senior nationals this year. "I did expect

to win gold here, but she beat me. What else can you say?"

Even Morin was surprised by her brush with perfection. "I knew it was a good

dive, but I didn't think there would be a 10 there."

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