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Monday, September 25, 2000

Just another big flop

Boswell, Boateng add to our grief for Edmonton 2000

 SYDNEY- Maybe if it had snowed.

 But it didn't. It rained. Poured. And Canada's last hope for a track and field medal to put to promotional use for next year's world championships in Edmonton was washed out.

 Last year's world silver medallist, Mark Boswell of Brampton, Ont. finished sixth.

 Kwaku Boateng of Montreal, sixth at worlds in Seville last year, was 12th.

 More Malar-ia? Another example of the so-called condition which has afflicted our high profile, high-hope athletes here?

 With Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin failing to come anywhere near making the final, much less winning a medal, and both scratched for the 4 x 100 metre relay, organizers of the first World Championships in Athletics ever to be held in North America are left with nothing national to sell.

 The only positive about what the world watched here last night was that Javier Sotomayor didn't win another Olympic gold. Instead he caught a cold. Or was he sniffling for another reason?

 OK.. Sotomayor has become an athlete the world loves to hate. The Edmonton 2001 people will probably be delighted to learn he announced to the world he isn't quitting after the Olympics as expected.

 "I intend to compete for one more year only,'' he said.

 Maybe he'll sell.

 The Cuban who put the high in high jump, Sotomayor had his gold taken away at the Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg for testing positive for cocaine use, and given to Boswell and Boateng who tied for second, finished second.

 In one of the most weak-kneed decisions in the history of sport, the IAAF lifted his suspension so he could compete in one last Olympics.

 In his case there was some poetic justice in what happened here. Otherwise there was none.

 ADD AN ASTERISK

 The Sydney 2000 Olympic high jump results should come with an asterisk.

 Russian Sergey Kliugin won it. Timing is everything. Kliugin jumped a first-up 2.35 metres. And then the clouds emptied, cleared the crowd and effectively ended the high jump competition then and there.

 Nobody got over the bar again. Sotomayor, Abderrahmane of Algeria, Stefan Holm of Sweden, Konstantin Matoussevic of Israel, Boswell and Staffan Strand of Sweden all ended at 2.32. That was your order of finish on the countback system.

 This wasn't the high jump. It was the low jump. Sotomayor's world record of 2.45 didn't get a go.

 "I was lucky,'' said the Kliugin.

 "Yes, the rain helped me.''

 The big guy, apparently, was rooting for the Russian.

 "It was God's will,'' he said.

 Whatever, the weather spoiled the show.

 "It started out to be a great competition,'' said Boswell.

 "Then the weather changed. It was cold and windy and rainy but when it started to pour ... that was it. It had a huge effect.

 '`The weather caught me by surprise out there, but I have to learn from it.

 "But, hey, this is what it's all about, gaining experience and having fun. And that's what I've done here.

 "Next time around I'll know how to deal with that situation better and hopefully come away with a better result.''

 Boswell said his Olympic experience wasn't entirely spoiled by the rain.

 "When I walked out into the stadium and looked up, I said 'wow.' This is huge. The Olympics are humongous.

 "It's been a great experience. I'm staying around for the 4 x 100 metre relay to enjoy what's left of it.''

 RUNNING ANCHOR LEG

 The way things are going for Canada in that event, Boswell may have to run the anchor leg.

 "What happened here hasn't changed anything for me,'' said Boswell. "My goal for here was to finish in the top five. I finished sixth.

 "Sure, I'm disappointed. But it won't have an effect on me. I'll stay focused. My goal is to win a medal for Canada in Edmonton.

 The 22-year-old is the brightest future for Canada in the sport, no matter what happened to him here.

 He says he doesn't think Canadians will turn on him because he didn't deliver a silver.

 "I'm sure everyone in Canada is still happy with me. The rain caught me off guard.

 '`The rain was really hard on me. It was a big change. The rain just came down and it came down on a big jump.

 '`I was here for a top five finish, I wasn't here for a medal.''

 I don't know. Sure sounds like Malar-ia to me.