Canadian artistic swimmer Simoneau wins gold at world aquatics championships
DOHA, Qatar — Artistic swimmer Jacqueline Simoneau won Canada's first gold medal at the 2024 world aquatic championships Tuesday with a winning performance in the women's solo free competition.
The victory by Simoneau was Canada's first since Sylvie Fréchette won the solo event at the 1991 worlds in Perth, Australia.
"I had always dreamt of becoming the world champion," said Simoneau, who entered the final after placing third behind Austria’s Vasiliki Alexandri and Greece's Evangelia Plataniot in preliminaries. “I don’t think I can ask for anything more.
"It has been a team effort and this gold medal goes to all of us."
The performance by Simoneau, from Montreal, topped the total difficulty and execution categories to give her a total score of 264.8207 points.
Platanioti, who had the best artistic impression score, was 11.5374 points behind Simoneau.
Vasilina Khandoshka of Belarus was third. Khandoshka is competing in Doha as a neutral athlete under sanctions imposed against Russia and her native country over the invasion of Ukraine.
It's the 27-year-old Simoneau's second medal of the world championships. She won silver in the women's solo technical on Saturday, finishing behind Platanioti.
"We have a rich history of artistic swimming but it has lost its charm over the years, particularly during COVID, and we are trying to bring it back," Simoneau said. "We are trying to grow some interest especially now that the sport has become more inclusive as men can also participate."
Russia, a longtime powerhouse in artistic swimming, declined to compete as neutral individuals in Doha.
Meanwhile, divers Caeli McKay of Calgary and Kate Miller of Ottawa finished sixth in the women's synchronized 10-metre platform event to earn a spot at the Paris Games, and Emma Finlin of Edmonton was awarded an Olympic berth in the women's 10-kilometre marathon three days after finishing 24th Saturday's race.
McKay and Miller, who started their partnership last year, finished with a score of 287.34 points, 74.88 behind runaway winners Quan Hongchan and Chen Yuxi of China.
McKay, 24, made her Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games and teamed with Meaghan Benfeito to finish fourth in the 10m synchro platform.
Miller, 18, will be making her Olympic debut in Paris.
"Qualifying for the Olympics is a great achievement," McKay said. "When we get home, we’ll work really hard. We can focus on Paris now and work hard to try and get that medal."
Finlin, 18, just missed Olympic qualification Saturday when she finished 0.7 seconds behind 23rd-place finisher Martha Sandoval of Mexico.
However, World Aquatics announced Tuesday that she will receive the unallocated spot for Oceania, which had no competing athletes in Doha outside the two Australians already qualified.
In other action Tuesday, Canada's women's water polo team improved to 2-0 with a 20-5 rout of Britain.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2027.