August 11, 2012
Canada no stranger to Summer Olympic heartbreak
By QMI Agency
For Canada, there's no shortage of it in the Summer Games over the years, Saturday marking just the latest painful chapter.
Here are a few of the most agonizing memories in Canadian Olympic history.
There is no other word to describe the post-race letdown that snatched a bronze medal from Canada's 4x100-metre relay team Saturday, when they were disqualified because Jared Connaughton's left shoe briefly touched the inside line of his lane during a baton hand-off. To make matters worse, Olympic officials formally announced the winners — Jamaica's gold, Americans' silver and Canada's bronze — sparking celebration among the Canadians. Minutes later, some members of the team were in tears. The bronze instead went to Trinidad & Tobago. Connaughton, interviewed on national television within minutes of the stunning reversal, showed a classy resolve in accepting responsibility for the DQ. "It was my fault. I'm really upset and I'm sorry for costing my teammates a medal."
In the 2012 women's soccer semifinal, Canada led the top-ranked (and eventual gold medal-winning) Americans 3-2 when referee Christiana Pedersen called an exceedingly rare penalty on the Canadian goalkeeper —ruling she'd held the ball for longer than the allotted six seconds. That resulted in an indirect kick that hit the hand of a Canadian player, giving the U.S. a penalty kick that they converted to tie the game and set the stage for an extra-time 4-3 win.
BEN JOHNSON'S DISGRACE
At the 1988 Seoul Games, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won the 100-metre gold in a world-record time of 9.79 seconds that had Canadians basking in international glory for several days. Three days later, in stunning fashion, Johnson's medal was revoked after he tested positive for steroids — an international disgrace that remains perhaps the biggest scandal in Olympic history. The gold was then given to the man who finished behind Johnson, American sprinter Carl Lewis.
At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Frechette had to settle for silver in synchronized swimming thanks to one of the strangest screw-ups imaginable: During the compulsory figures, Brazilian judge Ana Maria Da Silviera accidentally gave Frechette an 8.7 score -- when she meant to type in 9.7. According to Frechette's coach, Da Silviera tried to fix the error but the computer wouldn't change. She consulted two referees, one of whom was American, who refused to change the score. That ultimately gave the gold to Kristen Babb-Sprague. In the immediate aftermath of the mistake, coach Julie Sauve held no grudge against the judge: "The (Brazilian) judge reacted so fast, I cannot blame her. She's human. I can accept that. She said something right away. Who do you blame? The judge did a perfect job ... it's the people who made the decision." Frechette, too, was calm and classy. Justice was served 16 months later, when the International Olympic Committee awarded her a gold. (Babb-Sprague kept hers, too.)
Canadian boxer Sean O'Sullivan lost what by all rights was his gold medal in the light middleweight class at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. He was fighting Frank Tate, who O'Sullivan took to two standing eight counts in the second round – and despite that the judges scored the round to Tate. Emanuel Steward, Tate's coach, admitted O'Sullivan deserved to win.