SLAM!Sports
 


 SPORT INDEX
 

 Previous Olympics
 









COLUMNISTS

Mon, August 23, 2004

Nose dive!


One building away from gymnastics gold, Emilie Heymans could author the continuing sad story for Canada at the Olympic Games.

"I choked," she told the French media afterward.

It was all there for Heymans yesterday here in Athens. The way it has been for so many. One dive to win. One dive for gold, silver or bronze.

One opportunity of a lifetime missed.

Afterward, at the Olympic aquatic centre, she apologized for what might have been, knowing she may never have this opportunity again.

She didn't know how close she was to gold in the women's 10-metre platform. And after missing her last dive, she slapped the water, remained as composed as she could as she walked by her coaches, and then made her way to the warmup room, where she collapsed to her knees and broke down in tears.

"That's her dive," said fellow Canadian Myriam Boileau, who finished seventh. "She never misses it."

You should know that the dive that didn't happen was a back 2 1/2 somersault with 1 1/2 twists. Her best dive, her coach calls it. There was nothing wrong with the takeoff, only with the landing. Had her fifth dive been like her fourth dive, she would be sharing the stage with Kyle Shewfelt this morning, or at worst playing second fiddle.

Two things happened yesterday: Chantelle Newbery of Australia won gold. Emilie Heymans of Montreal lost silver and bronze to finish fourth.

This was another of those Canadian locks, the sure things the national Olympic committee had counted on, another medal gone from the shrinking overall total. Celebrate the amazing accomplishment of Shewfelt but understand that Heymans needed to be only ordinary on her last dive to earn her second medal of the Games.

Instead of ordinary, she missed. "Of course, I knew," Heymans said, barely speaking afterward. "I wanted to go right up and do it again."

There are no do-overs in diving. That is both the beauty and cruelty of the sport. You get five chances and little room for error. In the final, there is almost no recovering from mistakes.

With an excellent fourth dive, Heymans had put herself in position to win, fewer than five points behind Newbery. But she ended up more than 35 points behind the leader, who hit the right dive at the right time and finished almost six points away from bronze.

SORRY FOR CANADA

"I feel sorry for Canada, because I know that things haven't been great for us," said Michel Larouche, Heymans' long-time coach. "And this is just another opportunity to talk badly about us."

He felt sorry for Canada, sorry for Heymans, sorry for himself. "She came out of her somersault too late. I don't know why," Larouche said. "This is normally her dive. I was pretty confident. That's what Emilie does."

Restated: That's what Emilie did. Another world champion off the podium. Another reason to wonder why we can't.

"There's no excuse, there's no explanation," national team coach Mitch Geller said. They came to Athens expecting three or four diving medals. So far, there is one. This was Heymans' best opportunity. Up next, the pressure and expectation shifts to 19-year-old Alexandre Despatie.

"I know we've let people down," Geller said. "I know there was a big disappointment with the rowers."

He didn't know that an hour earlier, across the street, Kyle Shewfelt had won gold. He didn't know there was some reason for optimism.

He wanted gold, or least silver, and at least one of those was attainable.

"I wish," Emilie Heymans said. She started the sentence, never finished it, and stared straight ahead.


Does Canada's low-medal haul in Athens bother you?
Yes, it depresses me
No, it's just sports
I'm disappointed, but not worried
We'll get 'em in Turin
Don't care

Results



CANOE home | We welcome your feedback.
Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.