Émilie Heymans | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Émilie Heymans

A 6 time PAN AMERICAN medallist and 3 time OLYMPIC GAMES medallist, success began early for Heymans, who had won 30 national titles by the time she was 19.

Émilie Heymans

 Émilie Heymans, diver (born at Brussels, Belgium, 14 Dec 1981). Born in Belgium, her family immigrated to Canada in 1982. Heymans comes from an athletic family. Her mother, Marie-Paule, represented Belgium in fencing at the 1976 Olympic Games. Heymans has continued this Olympic family tradition to become one of the best divers in Canada, having won a medal in 3 consecutive Olympic Games and poised to take her fourth at the 2012 London Games. Heymans started her career in competitive sport as a gymnast; at age 11, she started DIVING and fell in love with the sport. Her potential was noticed quickly after she began, and within a week of starting the sport she was under the wing of a coach.

Early Career

A 6 time PAN AMERICAN medallist and 3 time OLYMPIC GAMES medallist, success began early for Heymans, who had won 30 national titles by the time she was 19. Her achievements include being the world junior tower champion for 1997, the world cup silver medallist in the 3 m in 1999 and the Pan Am Games tower champion in 1999. She won her first Olympic medal at the 2000 Olympic Games, winning a silver medal in the 10-m synchronized diving event with her teammate Anne Montminy. She followed this performance with silver medals at the 2002 COMMONWEALTH GAMES, the 2003 Pan Am Games, and the 2003 FINA Super Grand Final. Heymans finished the 2003 season as a world champion, taking the gold in the 10 m diving event at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona.

Olympic Competition

She continued her Olympic wins at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, winning Canada's first medal of the Games, a bronze in the 10 m synchronized diving event with Blythe Hartley. Over the next few years, Heymans and Hartley continued to dominate in national diving events, while Heymans excelled at individual diving events, winning her second individual medal at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. In 2007, Heymans began a partnership with Marie-Eve Marleau; over the next 2 seasons, Heymans and Marleau would dominate the international and national synchronized diving events, taking 1st and 2nd place in many competitions in 2007 and 2008. However, the highlight of 2008 for Heymans was the Olympic Games in Beijing. It was there that Heymans won the silver medal for the 10 m tower event, the first individual Olympic medal Heymans took. The win also placed Heymans in an elite group of Canadian athletes, just the fifth athlete in Canadian history to win 3 Olympic medals at 3 consecutive Olympics.

Continued Success

Following the 2008 Olympics, Heymans chose to change the focus of her individual diving training and switched to concentrate on the 3 m springboard event. At her first competition in this new event, the 2009 Canada Cup, Heymans won the silver medal. Her national success was quickly followed by a 2nd place finish at the 2009 FINA World Championships.

Despite suffering with a hip injury for much of the 2010 season, Heymans continued to achieve wins in many events. She began the 2010 season with a gold medal win in the 3 m dive at the Winter Senior National Championships. Perhaps the most significant change of 2010 was that she found herself with a new synchronized diving partner, Jennifer ABEL. The 3 m springboard synchronized pair was successful almost immediately, winning a silver medal at the World Series in Mexico, followed 2 weeks later by a silver medal finish at the Canada Cup Grand Prix in Montreal and a bronze medal in June. The pair finished the 2010 season with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, while Heymans took home an additional bronze in the 1 m springboard.

Heymans and Abel's partnership proved strong throughout 2011 with the pair setting a Canadian record on the 3 m synchronized event at the Summer Nationals. The duo also picked up 3 silver medals on the 2011 FINA World Series tour, and silver at the FINA World Aquatic Championships. This win secured the pair a spot for Canada in the 3 m synchronized dive event at the 2012 Olympics in London. It is there that Heymans won her fourth Olympic medal, a bronze. The year 2012 also marked Heymans' retirement from competitive sport.