It was within moments of taking his big leap forward that Brampton high jumper Mark Boswell stopped looking to his past.
A bronze medal at the world championships in Paris last year proved to him that potential had turned to productivity on the world stage. And the taste was so sweet that he wanted more.
"In his mind, Mark believes he is going to (win a) medal (at the Olympics)," Athletics Canada coach Alex Gardiner said. "Mark loved the feeling so much in Paris that it has motivated him that much more."
Whether Boswell can step up again will require a massive display of his will and mental strength. As talented as he is, Boswell has been nursing an ankle injury since the breakthrough in Paris and has not jumped higher than 2.24 metres in competition since.
He'll likely have to add at least 10 centimetres to challenge for a medal in Greece and it would have been nice to see him inch closer by now.
On the other hand, Boswell says he has had a singular focus since getting draped in bronze a year ago and that is saving his best for Olympic Stadium.
"I'm just being patient and don't want to push anything out there," Boswell said. "My history shows that if I stay positive and stay focused it always works out. I'll put my money on that any day."
Putting money on a fistful of Canadian medals at the Games' marquee session could be risky business, however.
Four years ago in Sydney, Canada was shut out of athletics medals for the first time since 1972. That drought should end this time around thanks to the speed and moxy of hurdler Perdita Felicien.
But will the Pickering native have company on the podium? It is a talented though trimmed down crew of 22 that is Athens-bound, and a team which shows more promise than proven success.
"Most of the athletes are still in their mid-20s and not yet at their peak form," Gardiner said. "I suspect we'll see 90% of this team again in Beijing (for the 2008 Games). That's when they are going to be really firing and really flying."
What about this year? Brantford native Kevin Sullivan turned in one of the most impressive Canadian performances of the Sydney Games when he finished fifth in the 1,500 metres. Unfortunately, he competes in one of the toughest and deepest events at the Games.
"Every year I come in with the same goal -- to make the final and try to run for a medal," Sullivan said. "I'm approaching this the same way."
A dark-horse for medal consideration is B.C.'s Dianne Cummins, who at various points this year has been competitive with the best in the world.
"She has beaten everybody but the top two in the world," Gardiner said of Cummins' hopes in the women's 800. "She's certainly capable of contending."
In the men's 800, Gary Reed of Kamloops, B.C., has been improving rapidly and could crack the top 10.
Then there are the drama kings of the Canadian team -- the men's 4x100 relay squad. Four years ago, Nic Macrozonaris of Montreal was proclaimed the future of Canadian sprinting, big talk for a nation with a storied tradition of speed. But he has become more infamous lately for sparring with his relay team members.
"If these guys get their act together, a medal is a possibility," Gardiner said.
- Jacques Freitag, South Africa.
Men's 4x100m relay
- Team USA
Men's 100 metres
- Maurice Greene, U.S.
Favourite over compatriot Shawn Crawford.
Women's 800 metres
- Maria Mutola, Mozambique
Men's 1,500 metres
- Hicham El Guerrouj, Morocco.
Only Olympic gold has eluded him.