Boz clap turns on Oz
By RYAN PYETTE -- Winnipeg Sun
SYDNEY -- If Canadian high jumper Mark Boswell never does anything else at these Olympics, he'll still leave with one unforgettable moment.
Last night, the lanky 6-foot-2, 150-pound Brampton, Ont., native put himself in a tiger's cage by missing his first two attempts at the qualifying height of 2.27-metres.
So to hype himself for his final try, Boswell started clapping, hoping a couple folks would pick up the rhythm.
All of a sudden, there were 110,000 people clapping. The sprints stopped. The TV cameras pointed his way. He was on the JumboTron.
Everybody was watching Boz.
All of a sudden, a third try at a height he usually makes in his sleep became the most important jump on Earth.
"I started clapping because there was a small group of Canadians behind me and I wanted them to urge me on," said the 22-year-old originally from Jamaica. "I looked over my shoulder, saw everybody in the stadium was doing it, and it was like, 'Whoa! I better make this one."
He nailed it, the crowd roared, and Boswell pulled a backflip that brought the house down.
He will go for gold in tomorrow's final with a few thousand more fans.
"I had this electric feeling inside my body," he smiled. "I wasn't worried. When I took off, I knew I would fly over the bar that time. "It was good for me. I was persistent. I didn't come all this way to not make the final.
"Missing the first two woke me up."
WILL AIM FOR THE PODIUM
And now that he's wide-awake, both he and good buddy Kwaku Boateng of Montreal, who also made it through at 2.27, will aim for the podium.
Canada hasn't had a men's high jumper in the finals since 1984. Now, it has two.
And the pair, who tied for Pan Am gold in Winnipeg last year, represent Canada's best hopes for a medal in athletics.
Boswell, the 1999 NCAA champ, finished an eye-opening second at the Worlds in Seville, Spain, last year with a 2.35-metre leap.
He figures he'll need slightly more than that to medal this time. "I think 2.37, 2.38 will get an athlete on the podium," he predicted.
If Boswell can do it anywhere, it's here. He's at home in Sydney. Four years ago, he captured the world junior championship a couple blocks away from Olympic Stadium.
"Right over at Homebush Stadium, just a few miles down the road," smiled Boswell, who is lodging with Donovan Bailey, but isn't worried he might catch the flu from the sprinter. "I am comfortable here. It's great to be back, and this meet is unbelievable.
"It's gonna be some high jump final."
Especially with Cuba's Javier Sotomayer, the legendary leaper caught with cocaine in his system in Winnipeg, reinstated for these Games.
"Competing with him, as a high jumper, is unbelievable," said Boswell. "I used to study tapes of him jumping growing up. "He is the favourite, but there are a lot of guys here who are going to give it a go."
FAST DASH: Ladonna Antoine opened a few eyes by winning a women's 400-metre heat last night.
The 25-year-old from Regina who finished 23rd in Atlanta blazed to a quick 51.78 to stay in the hunt with the likes of Aussie hero Cathy Freeman, who lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremonies.
"I really admire Cathy, I hope I can stay around long enough to get her autograph," smiled Antoine.