Medal pressure builds on Boswell
By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun
SYDNEY -- The Boz is in Oz with a cause.
Whether he likes it or not, Brampton high jumper Mark Boswell carries the expectations of the entire Canadian track and field team on his slender shoulders.
With Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey injured, sick and out of the medals in the 100 metres, and the men's 4x100-metre relay team on the verge of falling apart, the only legitimate chance was the 22-year-old Boz (at 3:15 a.m. EDT this morning). And, perhaps, fellow jumper and best friend Kwaku Boateng of Montreal.
It wouldn't be that way for Boswell if not for his dramatic ascension in the high-jump rankings in the past two years, and stunning silver-medal win at the 1999 world track and field championships in Seville.
The personable Boswell made his mark on the international scene by capturing the gold medal at the 1996 world junior championships at the Sydney International Athletic Centre, which is being used as a warmup track for these Games. The Jamaican-born athlete won with a personal-best leap of 2.24 metres. But what has happened since is more remarkable. In a span of three years, the 6-foot-2, 146-pound jumping stringbean has improved his PB to 2.35 metres, a Canadian record. He also has consistently challenged the best jumpers in the world this season in Europe.
But Boswell does not feel pressure.
"Not at all," he said. "I'm just here having fun. I'm taking this first experience and making it so the next time I'm here (at an Olympics) it will be a lot better."
At 22, Boswell believes he has at least two more Olympics in his future, so immediate expectations are not a burden.
Boateng, 26, has quietly climbed the ranks as well. Last year, he shared the Pan Am Games gold medal with Boswell (after Cuban great Javier Sotomayor was suspended for banned drug use) and finished sixth at the world championships. His best jump this season of 2.34 ranks him fifth in the world.