From commentator to competitor

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:15 PM ET

HALIFAX -- She's been there. But she hasn't done that.

Colleen Jones has been to the Olympics. But she hasn't been in the Olympics.

Yesterday she was going through the list.

"Seoul '88. Albertville '92. Atlanta '96. Sydney '00. Athens '04.''

She's been to Commonwealth Games as far away as New Zealand. She's been to the Pan-Am Games.

But she's always been on the outside looking in - the commentator, not the competitor.

"After covering so many Olympics as a broadcaster, it would be a thrill and a dream to represent our country.

"I've looked in their eyes. I was on-site as a reporter when Lori-Ann Muenzer won her gold medal in cycling in Athens. I really saw it in her eyes. In a way I've lived it through Canadian athletes like her vicariously.

"I've listened to them describe what it's like. I fully understand what it means to them to be there. I've watched it first hand. I want to have that same feeling. I want to glorify in it. Every day at the Olympics with CBC, I've thought 'Wow, wouldn't that be wonderful.' ''

To many the 'Roar of the Rings' Olympic Trials which begins here this morning sets up on the women's side as Jones vs. Jones, old Jones vs. young Jones, Colleen Jones vs. Jennifer Jones, the 31-year-old Winnipeg skip who won the Scott last year.

Colleen says she feels younger now than she has in years.

"It's great having another chance to get to the Olympics. It's been a reason to push and continue to play at our ripe old age,'' says the 45-year-old skip who is not the oldest member of her rink which averages just under 43 years of age.

"I feel great. I feel better at 45 than I did at 35. I feel better now than when I was mothering with no sleep. We have big expectations and high hopes,'' added the gum-chewing, skirt-wearing skip who has long been a Canadian curling icon.

"Our team is so ready. We've prepared for this for so long,'' she adds of having punched her ticket for these Olympic Trials three years go.

Being that Colleen would be 49 for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, you'd figure she'd view this as last chance gas.

"We don't look at it that way,'' she said. "It's hard to imagine living without curling.''

Jones, who opens against Kelly Scott of British Columbia in the first draw here this morning and plays Marie-France Larouche of Quebec in the night draw, says she doesn't feel being the hometown rink in the event is a negative because of the extra pressure it might add.

"We're glad it's here. We're excited to be playing at home. This is definitely going to be a nice feeling for us. It's a big motivator.

"We want to use the energy of the crowd. We want to enjoy the moment. It's our house.

"It's our home.''

Like the Randy Ferbey rink which has won four of the last five Briers and three of the last four World Curling Championships, there are a lot of people out there who think Colleen Jones shouldn't have to go through this to win the right to represent Canada at Torino '06.

With her Halifax Mayflower Club team of Kim Kelly, Mary-Ann Arsenault and Nancy Delahunt, Jones has won five of the last seven Scott Tournament of Hearts Canadian titles including four-in-a-row. She's also won two world championships since the turn of the century.

"There's a lot of pressure on Randy and us to complete this,'' says Jones, who has made a remarkable 19 Scott Tournament of Hearts appearances, so many that it was actually called The Lassie when she first showed up.

She said the Ferbey Four qualified for this event about five times, teams finishing second and even third in events getting a qualifying spot because Ferbey had his.

"Randy had so many spots he should get hammer for extra games,'' she said of last-rock advantage.


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