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ROWING

Tue, August 24, 2004
Powell crushed by loss
'Peg rower not ready to think about future
By -- Winnipeg Sun

It probably wasn't even a fair question, but...

Some 14 hours after one of the lowest moments of his life, I asked Winnipegger Jeff Powell about his future.

Would Sunday's crushing loss in the final of the Olympic men's eight mark the end of his international rowing career?

The deep breath Powell took as he pondered the question said it all: this is going to be one of the most difficult decisions he'll ever make.

"I can't tell you that," Powell began. "I mean, what a terrible way to finish your rowing career. That's going to be the hardest thing. I can't tell you now. It's a little too soon."

The embarrassment of finishing fifth in a race Canada was favoured to win was still too fresh.

Powell's crew, two-time world champions, will go down as one of this country's biggest disappointments in an Olympics with no shortage of them.

His comment about going out on a low note might be telling, though.

I mean, which athlete would want his or her final exit to include a picture of them hanging their head in defeat?

The crew's coach, Mike Spracklen, made it clear where he stands on Powell's future.

"I would be delighted if he does carry on," Spracklen told The Sun.

At 28, Powell is in his prime, and could easily remain a top rower into his 30s.

The thing is, true redemption could only come in Beijing in 2008, and that means four more years of living as a poor amateur athlete and putting any thoughts of a career on hold.

Powell's life is about to change, too -- he's getting married here in a couple of weeks.

"I look forward to that," he said. "But there will be some hard people to look in the eye when I get home. I can separate the two, but I'd be lying if I said this won't be in the back of my head for a long time."

The months following the Olympics are a down time for the national team, so Powell won't have to make a decision until the New Year.

"We've got quite a bit of time," he said. "And, quite frankly, I think a lot of us need it."

LEADER OF WHAT? So, Toronto Argonauts head coach Pinball Clemons is counting on newly-signed receiver Andre Rison to provide "leadership" to his squad?

Let's see: Rison has failed NFL drug tests, been in trouble for writing bad cheques and giving a false name to police after a bar fight, got a chance to resurrect his career with Tampa Bay but showed up out of shape, and, more recently, has been ordered arrested in two states for allegedly falling some $200,000 behind in child support payments.

Oh, and his ex-fiancee, the late Lisa Lopez, burned down his house.

"If you looked at the average number of personal problems that individuals have in our society, he'd probably be at the low end," Clemons said the other day.

The low end? We'd all better get busy.

Who's Clemons hanging out with these days, the Hells Angels?

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE: With Powell's finish and swimmer Rhiannon Leier unable to reach the final in her event, it's down to one chance for a Manitoban to bring a medal home from Athens. Dominique Bosshart of Landmark, who won a bronze in Sydney, will take to the mat in taekwondo next weekend ... Is it just me, or do the Chicago Bears keep bringing in more defensive ends, thereby burying Brandon's Izzy Idonije deeper and deeper on their depth chart? ... Back to Athens, where it's Canada vs Cuba in today's baseball semi-final -- a flashback to the Pan Am Games here in '99. Canada lost that one, but went on to win bronze, its first-ever international medal ... Three reasons Canada should have no trouble with the U.S. in the World Cup of Hockey: Robert Esche, Ty Conklin and Rick DiPietro, the American goalies.


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

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