Oly grind is all worth it now

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:44 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Glenys Bakker returned to her Calgary home to hug her infant daughter, who had no clue that her mom had just won Olympic bronze in Italy.

"When I got home and she (Sara) saw me, her eyes were like two big saucers," Bakker recalled here yesterday. "She just kind of looked at me and I was like, 'Oh, I've been away too much.'

"That was probably the biggest reason why I wasn't playing well. I wasn't completely there. Part of my heart was back home."

All tolled, Bakker was away from home for about 80 days pursuing an Olympic curling medal for Canada.

"I actually felt like I sacrificed a lot, and to win this actually seemed to make it worthwhile," said Bakker, second for Shannon Kleibrink, whose entire team was flown into the Scott Tournament of Hearts to be recognized by the crowd and fellow competitors at the John Labatt Centre last night.

"I will be awfully surprised if I ever get another chance to win another Olympic medal, realistically, in Canada. It was such a sweet feeling, a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

BATTLED

And don't tell any of them that they won "just a bronze."

"I would challenge them to do what we did, to battle through sickness and play those teams, and we are so happy with the bronze," said lead Christine Keshen, who fought some kind of virus. "Considering what we went through, and to win that last game, it feels like more than that to us. I don't think anyone can say, 'It's only a bronze.' "

Third Amy Nixon, who also battled a virus, would have some choice words for anyone who would suggest that.

"First thing I'd say, right off the top, that it's a lot of hard work for this bronze," she said. "A bronze medal is an accomplishment and, as I get older, I think it will feel even better. Obviously, there's still some residual regret about not getting a little bit better than that.

"For a 28-year-old who had never won a Canadian championship and had never gone to a Canadian junior, it's not bad."

And all four will cherish those special moments on the podium where they were presented with their medals at an outdoor plaza.

"When I got up there, it was so bright, there were so many lights and cameras and people as far as you could see," Keshen said. "That was just powerful. I just felt so, 'Yes, thank God we're here.'

"After I got off the podium, I broke down completely. I was a mess. It was suddenly, 'Oh my God, it's over, we did this. Finally, we're done.'"

Nixon will always remember being on the podium with her dad, Daryl, the team's coach.

"That will be one that will be able to evoke emotion from me for a while," she said.

"The podium and the night after the podium was pretty overwhelming," Kleibrink said. "It was like being a rock star for a day."


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