Fri, September 20, 2013

Sylvie Frechette offers advice to Olympic women's soccer team

By QMI Agency


Two decades after her own controversial Olympic heartbreak, Sylvie Frechette offered sage advice Tuesday to the Canadian women's soccer team.


The Canadian women’s soccer team must use its controversial semifinal loss to the U.S. as motivation for Thursday’s bronze-medal game, says the victim of arguably the most infamous result in Canadian Olympic history.

Sylvie Frechette, robbed of a synchronized swimming gold by a judging error in 1992, offered clear advice to the Canadian Olympic soccer squad whose contentious 4-3 loss to the Americans unleashed outrage across the roster — and the country.

“What’s important is how they will use this,” Frechette told QMI Agency. “Now they have to think: we will show we’re stronger. They must not crumble. That’s the risk.

“Those weird moments often happen during the Olympics.”

Frechette, perhaps more than anyone, would know.

At the Barcelona Games, Brazilian judge Ana Maria Da Silviera gave Frechette an 8.7 score during compulsory figures — when she meant to type 9.7. The judge couldn’t fix her error, and two referees she alerted refused to change it.

That gave the gold to American Kristen Babb-Sprague. Frechette had to settle for silver until more than a year later, when the IOC awarded her a gold medal (Babb-Sprague kept hers, too).

“In my case, the decision was overturned. I thought it happened a bit too late, but it was overturned,” Frechette said. “Same thing for the figure skaters in Salt Lake City. Systems exist if you need to review decisions.”

Those Salt Lake skaters, of course, were Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who were cheated out of a gold in figure skating pairs by a French judge who scored their Russian rivals better than the clearly superior Canadians. Amid international furor, Sale and Pelletier also got the gold.

These kinds of officiating errors are common, even if they usually happen on much smaller stages, Frechette says.

“This happens in all sports,” she said. “It’s just sad when it does in such critical moments of an athlete’s career.”