Ross-McManus might have bounce in step for Beijing

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:00 PM ET

You spend enough time bouncing on a trampoline, you learn one basic fact pretty quick.

Balance matters.

Perhaps more than anything.

It's a thought first and foremost in Heather Ross-McManus' mind as she contemplates a return to the competitive trampoline circuit.

The 2004 Athens Olympics was supposed to be her swan song in the sport. She lived her dream at the birthplace of the Games, finished an impressive sixth in her Olympic debut ... more than enough, it seemed, to convince Ross-McManus the time was right to move on with life.

And that she did. Ross-McManus and her husband/coach Sean are proud parents to their first child, a son Quin who's now three months old. Both are active coaches at Spring Action, the trampoline club they run in downtown Ottawa. She talks with excitement about some of the talented young prospects they get to work with every day.

But there are also times Ross-McManus can't help thinking about Anna Dogonadze, the Athens Games gold medallist from Germany.

She's 33. One year older than Ross-McManus.

"She's still competing," said the Mississippi Mills resident with a smile that reflects both admiration and curiosity.

Yes, she's asked herself the 'what if' question. Beijing, after all, is only two years away.

But life at home has changed so much.

"It all depends on the balance, if I could make it work," she said.

Later this summer, Ross-McManus will head off the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver for a series of trampoline shows. The kind of thing, she feels, that might help her answer that nagging question once and for all.

If the answer is yes, count on Ross-McManus calling on Jane Roos and her Canadian Athletes Now Fund again. She is a passionate supporter of the fund, which -- under its former See You In Athens name -- supplied Ross-McManus with $12,000 worth of vital funds that helped get her to Greece.

After filling out so many applications for financial aid -- and hearing the word no every time -- CAN Fund was the only hand that truly helped.

"For me, it meant I could (afford to) be a full-time athlete," said Ross-McManus. "I could really focus on being the best I can be ... what the rest of the athletes in the world were doing.

"My big thing was not having any regrets. I didn't want to say 'if only I had done this.' I could say 'if I don't make it (to Athens), I can live with it.' "

Ross-McManus did indeed make it and has shared her story with many school children since. Some of them, at Castlefrank Elementary School in Kanata, were so inspired they posted "dream bubbles" on the walls of their classroom.

"They were all dreaming," she said.

So, too, is Ross-McManus. Again.

Balance, as it always does on the trampoline, will wind up telling this tale.

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: In his world cross-country championships debut, Ottawa's Allan Brett ran to a 77th-place finish in the junior men's 8,000-metre race last weekend in Fukuoka, Japan. The Hillcrest High School student is headed to Villanova in the fall on a full track and field scholarship.

AROUND THE AMATEUR SCENE: The Ottawa Lions' Sarah Dillabaugh placed third (28:57) and Liz Maguire of the Ottawa Athletic Club Racing Team wound up fourth (29:12) among women's finishers at the Harry's Spring Run-Off 8K event last weekend in Toronto. They were 25th and 26th overall in a field of 1,816 ... Dates to file away on your calendars: Aug. 4-6, when the Canadian track and field championships hit the Terry Fox Facility.

ROB.BRODIE@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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