Boswell and Boateng both qualify for high-jump final
By JIM MORRIS -- Canadian Press
SYDNEY -- Down to his last jump on Friday, Mark Boswell remembered all the hours of sweat and training. When he leapt, he cleared the bar and claimed a spot in the Olympic Games high-jump final.
Boswell and teammate Kwaku Boateng will both jump in Sunday's final, the first time in 16 years a Canadian will leap for Olympic gold.
While Boateng, 26, qualified easily, missing just one jump at three different heights, Boswell, 22, sailed close to the wind.
He passed at 2.15 metres, cleared 2.20 and 2.24 but missed twice before finally being good on his last attempt at 2.27.
Boswell celebrated the jump by doing a back flip.
"It was a pretty lazy night for me but on my third attempt I had to muster it up and realize I came here for a reason," he said. "I knew I had to do it. I knew why I was training all year, I knew the reason why I'm here."
The 36 high-jump hopefuls were divided into two pools of 18. The top 13 moved into the final.
Boateng, of Montreal, found himself leaping against Russia's Vyacheslav Voronin, last year's world champion, and Cuban Javier Sotomayor, the current world record holder at 2.45 metres. He was allowed to compete at Sydney despite a positive test for cocaine at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg.
"It's better we jump with a big guy like Sotomayor and try to beat him," said Boateng, who wore space-age sunglasses that made him look like a creature from another planet.
"The final is going to be fun."
Boswell, 22, of Brampton, Ont., jumped in a group which included defending Olympic champion Charles Austin, who holds the Olympic record of 2.39 metres.
Boswell will need to clean up his jumps if he hopes to become the first Canadian since Greg Joy at the 1976 Games in Montreal to win a high-jump medal.
"I've just got to refocus and look at what I was doing wrong in the meet and set it up and get ready," he said.
"Sunday is going to be a lot faster and that's better for me. I think Sunday is going to be a better day for both of us."
The last Canadian to qualify for a high-jump final was Milton Ottey at Los Angeles in 1984.
Boswell, who finished second behind Voronin at the world championships, has been recovering from an ankle injury he suffered playing basketball.
Boateng grew up in Ghana and represented that country at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria. He made the final round of the high jump, but the night before the competition he left the athletes' village with five teammates to catch a bus to Montreal.