Rockburn's on top of the world

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:51 PM ET

My, what a newsy week it was over at the Minto Skating Club. Down the road in Kitchener, Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath carried Minto's colours -- not to mention the red maple leaf -- at the world junior figure skating championships.

But while their seventh-place finish was something to celebrate, an even bigger story was unfolding on the other side of the world.

That would be the gold-medal winning effort turned in by Raymond Rockburn at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

The 54-year-old from Minto won both the short and free programs, the latter skated to music from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. That earned him the Level 2 gold medal.

It also allowed Rockburn, the oldest entrant in the Nagano competition, to match the feat of another Minto skater, Richard Smith. He was the best of the bunch at the 1997 World Winter Games in Toronto.

Both share another rather important link -- the same coach, Anne Marie Bergeron.

Rockburn took up figure skating four years ago, after many years as a bowler. He trains with the Ottawa Blades club at Minto.

BIG WEEK FOR POMEROY: Ottawa Gymnastics Club alumnus Cara Pomeroy continues to make her mark at the University of Illinois. She became the first Illini gymnast in three years to be named Big Ten gymnast of the week, sharing the honour with Lisa Clark of Penn State. Pomeroy, a sophomore, earned the distinction by placing first on uneven bars (9.95) and balance beam (9.85) at the Texas Women's Quad meet, posting season-high scores in both wins. The results helped Illinois to the team title. Pomeroy has now claimed six event titles this season -- four on bars and two on beam.

FURY IN TOUGH: The Ottawa Fury men's squad couldn't have been dealt a tougher card for the debut season in the Premier Development League. The Fury have been placed in the North East Division of the league, which includes three recent PDL champs -- the Westchester Flames (2001) and two-time winners Cape Cod Crusaders (2002 and 2003 ). Another division member, Ocean City (which played as South Jersey last season), was one of two unbeaten teams in the PDL in 2004, with a 14-0-4 record. The Fury's debut game in the PDL is May 28 vs. the Flames at Keith Harris Stadium.

BAIRD HEADING SOUTH: Fury Under-18 girls team member Michelle Baird has accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Charleston, an NCAA Division II school in West Virginia. Baird, 17-year-old Grade 12 student at West Carleton, played for both the Nepean Hotspurs and Kanata clubs before joining the Fury program. She was part of the Fury U-19 side that reached the Super-Y League North American finals last year, and plays both goaltender and in the field. Charleston coach Bruce Cox expects Baird to contend for a starting role at two positions. Her scholarship is for soccer and track and field, where she excels in long jump, triple jump and shot put.

IN SYNCH: Two Gloucester Synchronized Swimming Club teams brought home silver medals at the Ontario championships, held recently at the Etobicoke Olympium. The Tier 7 team, coached by Lianna Sottile and Tara Hawkins, and the Tier 6 squad, coached by Genna LeGear, earned the second-place finishes. In addition, three club members --Chandra Costello, Jessica Graham and Erica Bryson -- earned invites to Synchro Ontario's high-performance training camp with top-20 finishes in figures.

AROUND THE AMATEUR SPORTS SCENE: Ottawa's Radmomir Samardzic was one of eight Ontario gold medallists at the Canadian taekwondo championships held recently in Richmond, B.C. ... Ottawa Athletic Club Running Team member Mary Jane Middelkoop has been inducted into the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga athletics Hall of Fame.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


Photos