The 3m springboard event at Los Angeles 1984 was expected to be a showdown between the American and Chinese divers. However, Canada’s Sylvie Bernier arrived at the Olympic Games with a series of wins on the international diving circuit. After performing well in the Olympic qualifying round, Bernier enter the finals ranked third. She had a history of not handling big event pressure well but used a new approach for the Olympic final. Bernier did not watch the posted scores of the other competitors and drowned out the public address announcer by listening to the “Flashdance” movie soundtrack between dives. Her strategy worked in securing the Olympic title. She scored 530.70 points to set an Olympic record, win Canada’s first ever gold in diving, and become Québec’s first female Olympic champion. She had surprisingly upset the two Americans and the two Chinese divers who finished second through to fifth.
Bernier started diving at the age of 10, and was on the national team by 14 under the direction of coach Don Dion. In a career that spanned six years, Bernier won five national titles and more than 20 international springboard medals including a 1982 Commonwealth Games silver for her first international title, 1983 Pan American Games bronze, and 1983 World University Games bronze.
Following her retirement from competitive sport in 1984, Bernier became involved in television broadcasting, commentating at Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992. She was Chef de Mission for the Canadian Olympic Team at Beijing 2008 and assistant Chef de Mission at Turin 2006 and London 2012.
Bernier received the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award in 1984 as the Canadian Female Athlete of the Year. As of 2016, Bernier remains Canada’s only Olympic diving champion.
She was inducted to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985, the same year she received the Order of Canada. He was inducted to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1996.
|1984 Los Angeles||Aquatics - Diving||Springboard 3m - Women||Gold|