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Monday, August 7, 2000

Limpert's nice gesture goes noticed

  We all were impressed when swimmer Marianne Limpert of Fredericton, N.B., captured a silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the 200-metre individual medley.

 We were impressed even more so after it was revealed that the first-place finisher, Ireland's Michelle Smith, enjoyed a healthy sprinkle of testosterone on her flakes every morning. But what Limpert did this past weekend in Winnipeg was as impressive, or more so, than all the medals and titles she has won in the pool over the years.

 Limpert and Toronto teenager Jenna Gresdal tied for first in the 50-metre freestyle event at the summer nationals, with a time of 25.93 seconds, five one-hundredths under the Olympic qualifying standard.

 Hitting the timer in third was Montreal's Nadine Rolland, who finished one one-hundredth behind. Rolland's mark was under the qualifying standard, but because she finished third, she was off the team and out of the Games.

 "It was quite a scene on the podium," Limpert said. "I was smiling, Jenna was crying because she was so happy, and Nadine was bawling because she was devastated."

 It was an understandable reaction given that the 50 free was Rolland's last shot to compete for Canada in Sydney, or at any Olympics. The 25-year-old missed the standard at the Olympic trials two months ago and finished seventh in the 100, one spot away from making the Olympic relay team.

 "When I looked at the clock and saw that I made the standard, I was very happy," Rolland said. "But when I saw that I was third, I said, 'No, that cannot be true.' "

 Sadly, it was true. Rolland's trip Down Under was kaput.

 That is, until the incredible Ms. Limpert saved the day.

 Having already qualified for Sydney in the 200 IM, the 100 free and the relay, Limpert, 28, decided to decline her spot on the team for the 50 free and give it to Rolland.

 "I guess I did my good deed for the weekend," Limpert said with a laugh. "It's not that big of a deal because the 50 free is a bit of an off-event for me. But it was nice to be in a position to do something like that. It's not like giving up a kidney."

 She's right there, but it was still a pretty wonderful gesture, and a sacrifice, given that Limpert might not swim the 100 free in Sydney, so the 50 free might have been a good event for her. But after seeing how gutted Rolland was, Limpert didn't hesitate.

 "I wanted to go to her room and tell her personally, but she had gone out to dinner," Limpert said. "So I talked to her on the phone. How was that? I got goosebumps. Later, when I saw her in the lobby, I gave her a big hug. It was really cool."

 Rolland was almost at a loss for words.

 However, there is one string attached to the deal. Limpert told Rolland that she has to swim fast in Sydney, or else.

 "She said she'd kick my butt if I didn't," Rolland said.

 WHERE'S THE CN TOWER? How dopey are the guys on the Canadian boxing team? Really, they're not that bad, although sending them into the B.C. Rockies for a training camp this week is a bit of a gamble. Before the 1992 Barcelona Games, the fighters were dispatched to a similar camp. One day during a hike, heavyweight Tom Glesby and light-heavy Dale Brown got lost. It took mountain guides eight hours to find them.

 "They were absolutely pooping their pants," veteran team member Mike Strange said. "It was hilarious."

 Boxing humour.

 UP THE CREEK: The guys on the men's lightweight fours rowing team, bronze medallists at the recent Vienna World Cup, are a hoot. Some excerpts from their bios:

 Gavin Hassett: Favourite saying: "Nothin's so bad it can't get worse."

 Chris Davidson: Favourite things: The Simpsons: "I'm very easily amused, which is good because I bore quickly, too. Or to quote Homer (not the ancient Greek) 'Mmm, beer eases the pain.' "

 Ed Winchester (alternate): "I'm 29 years old, but you'd probably peg me for a 24-year-old. Except that I have crow's feet. And I had a disc taken out of my back. And so I waddle more than I walk. Is any of this important? Probably not. Will you ever get to know me? Doubt it."

 GETTING THE GEAR: The Olympic team uniforms will be presented in a week or so, but here is a list of what the Canadian athletes will be receiving for Sydney.

 - Parade wear: Vest, jersey, pants, hat, shoes, belt, socks, rain poncho.

 - Podium wear: Jersey, pants, shoes.

 - Event wear: Jacket, v-neck T-shirt, twill pants, shorts, shoes.

 - Sports wear: Sydney Zip (whatever that is), sweat pants, T-shirt (2), ball cap.

 - Travel wear: Jersey, T-shirt.

 - Accessories: Duffle bag, knapsack, sunglasses, pins.