Jennifer Abel announces her retirement

Quebecer Jennifer Abel will take a whole new plunge, towards other challenges, she who officially announced her retirement on Tuesday.

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The 30-year-old athlete hangs his jersey after a career punctuated by four appearances at the Olympic Games. She made this announcement with the help of a letter entitled “Letter to the little Métis girl who wanted to dive”, written by herself, for herself.

“Before you, there were few Métis girls in diving. Maybe because they’ve been told like you that black girls are found in athletics or basketball, and not at the pool. But you, your dream was to dive. You fell in love because your mom always told you that you can do whatever you want in life. And you did not listen to closed minds. ”

It was in 2006, ten years after taking her first steps in this discipline, that the Quebecer distinguished herself on the international scene, winning a bronze medal at the FINA World Junior Championships. This medal – and her subsequent performances – allowed her to represent Canada for the first time at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, where she placed 13th place.

Her first medal on the biggest stage possible was awarded to her four years later, in London, where she won bronze in the 3m synchronized, with her partner at the time, Émilie Heymans.

The story is however very different, and sadder, in Rio, in 2016. Abel takes fourth place, just off the podium, both solo and synchronized, with Pamela Ware. The defeat was all the more heartbreaking in synchronized, where the two Canadians finished just one point off the podium.

“It’s your two fourth places at the Rio Games in 2016 that will make you want to stop everything. Are you going to wonder who Jennifer is if she doesn’t win a medal? It will take you a while to fall in love with your sport again. But it will be a turning point in your life. It is in adversity that you will learn to know yourself better … and to love yourself more. Not like the athlete; just appreciate the young woman. ”

Abel finally had his moment of redemption, in Tokyo in 2020, at his last Olympics. In what she describes as the hardest test of her career, she pocketed the silver medal with Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu, to crown the end of her career.

“Your last Olympic cycle will be the most difficult of your career. Especially the two years leading up to the Tokyo Games. The pandemic has been trying, physically and mentally. You will wonder why you get up, why you train and why you push yourself to go all the way.

“The answer will come in the synchro event, when you win the silver medal with your partner Melissa. This medal will not only be a balm over two difficult years, it will bring your international career to a close. ”

In addition to concluding his journey with two Olympic medals, Abel will be able to boast of being the most decorated Canadian athlete at the World Aquatic Championships, in addition to having amassed 68 medals at the World Series.

  • Listen to Jean-François Baril Lacroix’s column at the microphone of Philippe-Vincent Foisy on QUB Radio:

Letter to the little Métis girl who wanted to dive

By Jennifer Abel

Today you are announcing your retirement. But before you finally turn this page, I have things to tell you.

Before you, there were few Métis girls in diving. Maybe because they’ve been told like you that black girls are found in athletics or basketball, and not at the pool. But you, your dream was to dive. You fell in love because your mom always told you that you can do whatever you want in life. And you did not listen to closed minds.

You have always dived for fun. Your wish was not to go to the Olympics, far from it. You just wanted to be in the water all the time. It may also be because it was only at the swimming pool that your identity was clear. However, at one point, it was necessary to recognize that you had the potential to compete with the best divers in the world. It is at 16 that you will experience your first Olympic Games. It will be larger than life for the young girl that you are; the cameras, the spectators, the pressure. For the next 15 years, this routine will become your daily life.

You will don the World Cups, the World Championships, the World Series and … the Olympic Games. Four Olympic Games in total to be more precise. One day, you will become Canada’s most decorated athlete at the World Aquatic Championships. And you will win 68 World Series medals, in addition to two Olympic medals.

You will also know the reverse side of these medals. Disappointments, you will have them. Questions also. And one day you will go in search of your true identity outside the pool. It’s your two fourth places at the Rio Games in 2016 that will make you want to stop everything. Are you going to wonder who Jennifer is if she doesn’t win a medal? It will take you a while to fall in love with your sport again. But it will be a turning point in your life. It is in adversity that you will learn to know yourself better … and to love yourself more. Not like the athlete; just appreciate the young woman.

Your last Olympic cycle will be the most difficult of your career. Especially the two years leading up to the Tokyo Games. The pandemic has been trying, physically and mentally. You will wonder why you get up, why you train and why you push yourself to go all the way.

The answer will come in the synchro event, when you win the silver medal with your partner Melissa. This medal will not only be a balm over two difficult years, it will end your international career in style.

You and I will have talked to each other often, alone in our room in the Olympic Village in Tokyo. I asked you to hold my hand before my last one-on-one event. I was scared. I had no more benchmarks, I was exhausted. It was you, the little Métis girl who wanted to dive, who reminded me that the most important thing was to have fun; to smile. That whatever the outcome, I could be proud of myself.

When we got out of the water after our last dive, we knew right away that it was the end of it. The little girl had lived her passion to the end and she passed the torch to the other Jennifer, so that she could continue on her way.

###

I have experienced extraordinary moments in my career. Now is the time to start a new chapter. With eyes full of water and a light heart, I would like to thank all the people who have allowed me to live such a fulfilling career: my family, my coaches, my diving partners, my fiancé, my daughter-in-law, my agent. , my therapists and my nutritionist.

My athletic life prepared me for my adult life and now my new life as a mom. Today I know how to forgive myself after a failure, where to go to draw my strength in the face of adversity and with what energy one must work to succeed.

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