Supporting Canadian Athletes

Marie-Eve Marleau

Marie-Eve Marleau was on track for a successful gymnastics career, but a change of heart led her into the water instead. Now one of Canada’s top female divers, Marie-Eve is hoping to compete in Beijing in both the 10m tower individual and 10m tower synchro events.

Marie-Eve’s commitment to her sport goes well beyond the pool. The athlete representative for Diving Canada since 2007, Marie-Eve is a great example of an athlete who has embraced her rep role and who is not only dedicated to her responsibilities, but also values the personal development opportunities the role provides.

Marie-Eve was born in Laborador City, Newfoundland and Labrador, but moved to Laval, Que., before her first birthday. Her penchant for climbing any tree in sight led her mother to enroll her in gymnastics at age six and she eventually worked her way up to the junior national team. But at age 16, frustrated by constant injury and a waning passion, Marie-Eve made the decision to leave gymnastics and try diving.

“I fell in love with the sport,” says Marie-Eve. “In gymnastics you learn to orient yourself in your space and your timing and that translated well to diving. In diving you just land on your head instead of your feet!”

Marie-Eve reached junior national team status after only six months. She competed at the junior nationals in 1998 and competed in her first senior nationals and first international competition in 2000. In 2001, Marie-Eve accepted a scholarship to Texas A&M University, where she spent a year and a half before returning to Canada.

“I had a really good experience there,” she says. “But my goal was to become the best diver that I could be and at that time I thought that the best solution was to come back home.”

Settling back in Canada, Marie-Eve made the national team in 2003 and went on to win gold that year at the Pan Ams in the 10m synchro with Emilie Heymans. For the next couple of years Marie-Eve concentrated on her individual 10m diving, really hitting her stride in 2006, and ending the year with several top five national and international finishes. In 2007, she again teamed up with Emilie to compete in the 10m synchro at the Pan Ams and again the pair won gold.

“It was a really good feeling,” Marie-Eve says. “In four years you can really improve in diving and to do it again with the same partner was a really great feeling.”

Marie-Eve is currently gearing up for her third Olympic trials in Victoria, B.C., in June. She just missed out on going to Athens in 2004 with a third place finish in the individual 10m tower—Canada took the top two. This time Marie-Eve hopes to qualify in both the 10m individual and 10m synchro events. She is even anticipating a podium finish for herself and Emilie in Beijing.

“The Chinese are hard to beat, but we could do it,” Marie-Eve says of their chances. “It would mean the achievement of a lot of work that I’ve put into sport in the past 20 years. I’d be so happy. It would be a good ending to my career.”

Marie-Eve initially became interested in athlete leadership after talking with diving teammate and former athlete rep Chris Kalec. Soon after she began working with then-rep Erik Petursson and became the official Diving Canada athlete representative in 2007.

“I think it is important to get involved in something that you like and I think I am a good person to do it,” says Marie-Eve. “People feel comfortable talking to me.”

Marie-Eve was first exposed to AthletesCAN when she attended the 2005 Forum and has been to every Forum since. She says she has learned a great deal over the years, from how her NSO stacks up, to opportunities for her to grow as an individual.

“I have learned that our federation (Diving Canada) isn’t that bad,” laughs Marie-Eve. “I have also learned how to communicate, to be a leader, to write reports and to talk to my federation without them feeling attacked.”

Her advice for other athletes considering athlete leadership is that “you have to want to do it”.

“Don’t do it because you have to,” she says. “It is actually fun and there is so much you can learn, but you have to want to do it.”

Marie-Eve is currently working with a younger diver who will take over as the athlete rep when her tenure is up.

Now living, training and studying marketing in Montreal, Marie-Eve is considering retiring but is not entirely decided. When she does, Marie-Eve has aspirations of traveling to Africa with the Canadian Sport Leadership Corps, an opportunity she learned about from national team field hockey player Scott Sandison, who presented at the 2006 AthletesCAN Forum. But no matter where her future takes her, she plans to stay connected to the sport community.

“I want to stay involved,” she says.

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