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TAEKWONDO

Wed, August 25, 2004
Ignore big fat flops
Bosshart focuses on her event as Canuck favourites fail
By -- Winnipeg Sun

By this time, you'd think Canadian headquarters at the Athletes Village in Athens would resemble a loony bin.

One by one, our Olympic medal hopes have blown up, or, in the case of 100-metre hurdler Perdita Felicien, blown a tire and wiped out a competitor in the next lane.

This is fast turning into Our Big Fat Greek Flop, and it should be enough to send any self-respecting member of Team Canada off the deep end. Or at least to the couch of the nearest sports psychologist.

If winning begets winning, then we can only imagine what utter disaster begets. Maybe Felicien watched the men's rowing pair who veered off into the wrong lane last week.

We can only wonder.

Or, we can be like Landmark's Dominique Bosshart, who shrugs off the performance of other Canadians in Athens like she shrugs off opponents in taekwondo.

Bosshart has been in Athens a full two weeks now, but her event doesn't take place until Sunday, the last day of the Games.

That's a lot of time to practise, walk around, wait -- and get freaked out by the performance of your teammates.

But Bosshart, a bronze medallist in Sydney, didn't exactly sound rattled on the phone when we reached her in the Village yesterday.

"It doesn't really affect me too much," she said. "I just heard somebody repeat what one of the divers said (after the rowing disasters): 'S--- happens. They row and I dive.'

"Basically, it's the same thing. It doesn't really affect what I do. We're really happy about the medals we do have. You know Canadians -- we're always positive."

Now, Bosshart made those comments before Felicien took a nosedive on the track, before diver Alexandre Despatie (who made the 'stuff happens' comment) fell from first to second in the three-metre springboard and before Canada's eighth-inning collapse against Cuba in the baseball semifinal.

We know bad things are supposed to happen in threes, but that was ridiculous. Unconfirmed reports had Canadians jumping out of windows at a record clip right around 2:35 p.m. yesterday.

But back to Bosshart, whose challenge, like every other Canuck still to compete this week, will be to block it all out and pretend it never happened.

That's not an option, it's a prerequisite.

Athletes can't perform if they think bad thoughts. That's sports psychology 101. Bosshart, Olympic experience or not, is no exception.

"If she has a little fear, then she cannot perform," her old coach and mentor, grand master Jay Kang, told The Sun in a pre-Olympic interview. "This is her weak point. If she doesn't have that, then she can perform so good."

Bosshart agrees her biggest challenge is mental. This week, doubts are out, and positive thoughts in.

So it's probably a good thing she's been too busy training to take in any other events. Now if they could just keep her away from the TV.

As for her physical condition, the 26-year-old is shaking off the effects of a nasty cough, and had some minor hamstring problems before getting to Athens.

But yesterday she proclaimed herself ready to go for a second Olympic medal.

"I'm feeling good, especially over the last couple of practices," Bosshart said.

Unlike Sydney, where she was Canada's only taekwondo specialist, Bosshart has a teammate this time in Vancouver's Ivett Gonda, a smaller, quicker fighter who's been sparring with Bosshart this week.

They'll likely find out their competition draw today, and then it's another three days of waiting. And trying not to watch too much of what's going on around them.

Because stuff just seems to happen.







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