Swimming third to last in these finals, Simoneau was awarded full difficulty by the judges and posted a solo free world record score of 264.0287, more than 10 points above the gold-medal winning score from the Fukuoka World Championships 7 months ago. Already assured of a podium finish, there were some tense moments as she waited for the last 2 competitors to perform to get confirmation of her first place finish.
“Obviously as a competitor you go for gold, but tonight I was just satisfied knowing that I had given it everything I had.”
In the end, Simoneau’s score remained unmatched and she won gold ahead of solo technical gold medalist Evangelia Platanioti, from Greece, and Neutral Independent Athlete Vaselina Khandoshka. She lived the moment backstage with members of her coaching team Kerri Morgan and Kasia Kulesza, while on a video call with long-time coach and choreographer of the gold-medal routine Karine Doré, who was back in Montreal.
Her words when she found out: “We did it!”
“It’s unreal. This medal doesn’t just represent this one performance. It represents everything and everyone that’s gone into getting me to this point: the coaches, my parents, the many consultants – it’s the culmination of everyone’s effort. I’m just feeling incredibly grateful right now for everyone’s contribution.”
Gratefulness was one of the theme of Jaqueline’s solo as she had the names of some of her career’s key contributors etched into her routine suit, keeping them close to her heart as she swam for Canada.
The medal was the first gold for Canada in artistic swimming since Sylvie Fréchette won gold 33 years ago, also in solo, at the 1991 World Championships in Perth, Australia.
Receiving heartfelt congratulations backstage from artistic swimming legends Ona Carbonell and Virginie Dedieu, Simoneau soaked in the accolades and the recognition, but was quick to transition to the resolve and determination that have characterized her illustrious career. With less than 12 hours to go before having to compete again, this time in the duet free preliminaries with partner Audrey Lamothe, it was all business again.
“It’s what we do, it’s what we train for. We turn the page, get a good sleep, and tomorrow we come in ready to do it again.”
The words of a champion.