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Friday, September 15, 2000
PROFILE: Carol Montgomery
Wheels fall off

Crash ends dream for Canadian triathlete

By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

 SYDNEY -- Carol Montgomery may be in double trouble.

 The Vancouver athlete - who came close to losing her leg nine months ago and made such a remarkable recovery that she had managed to put herself in position to compete in two Olympic events in Sydney - may have had both her dreams crash last night.

 If it weren't for bad luck, this amazing 35-year-old would have no luck at all.

 Montgomery was involved in a spectacular five-alarm crash last night on the third lap of the six-lap bike section of the first Olympic triathlon. She not only lost her triathlon when she hit the pavement with two other cyclists, but she put herself in definite danger of not being able to race the 10,000 metres.

 She was taken to hospital to have her right wrist X-rayed and has lost a great deal of flesh from her left hip. Her helmet was shattered in the crash.

 Canadian coach Barrie Shepley talked to her via cellphone.

 SHOCKED

 "She said she's never had a smash on the head that hard and when she hit the pavement she was shocked that she wasn't knocked out," Shepley said.

 "I'll have tears in my eyes if she finds out she can't do the 10,000," he said. "If you'd told her she could only do one event, I think she would have taken the 10,000 metres. The other day she talked about being able to compete in front of 110,000 people at the track and about her dream since she was 12 to do that at the Olympics. There will definitely be scar tissue."

 An injury in 1996 kept Montgomery from competing in track at the Atlanta Olympics. If that's the case in Sydney, it would be tragic.

 "I guess it'll depend on how much bum flesh she lost and if she's done damage to her shoulder," Shepley said. "She's probably not going to know for a day or two."

 Last night's crash centered around a 19-year-old Hungarian who made it into this triathlon at the last minute because of another athlete's injury.

 Last year at the world triathlon championships, because of a technical debacle, Montgomery lost a title because the running part of the event turned out to be one lap less than it should have been. Experts in the sport are convinced she would have won the race.

 Now this. After going through so much to get here.

 She almost lost her left leg last year because of a blocked artery. Surgery around Christmas saved her leg and her Olympic dream.

 She was among the favourites in the triathlon and unquestionably the sentimental favorite.

 In the end, Brigitte McMahon of Switzerland took the gold, followed by Michellie Jones of Australia and another Swiss, Magali Messmer.

 It would have been wonderful if Canada had a success story to sell for the World Championships in Edmonton next year. But this was a sorry story that extended to Canada's other contender, Sharon Donnelly of Toronto.

 She too crashed. But the girl has guts and finished the event in 38th place at the world's most naturally beautiful amphitheatre -- bloodied, battered and bruised but managing to force a smile and a wave at every Canadian flag she saw during her last lap.

 The sharks didn't get anybody at Sydney Harbour but the bike course swallowed two Canadians.

 The 40-km climb around the Domain and Botanic Gardens is the middle leg of this race, which includes a 1.5-km swim and 10-km run.

 SERIOUS SCRAPES

 Donnelly finished 13 minutes 55 seconds behind the gold-medal winner. She had blood on her right arm and knee and serious scrapes on her hip.

 "My lower back has seized," she said. "It feels like I got hit by a car. It was on the second loop at the Botanical Gardens. I had nowhere to go. I went over the handlebars. Somebody landed on top of me.

 "I wasn't aware that Carol went down, too," she said.

 "Is she OK?"

 When told that Montgomery's 10,000 -metre track event might be in danger, Donnelly broke down in tears.
Carol Montgomery in the news
Montgomery makes painful decision
Montgomery calls it off
Montgomery will run in 10,000
Montgomery in pictures
Post-crash presser
Crashing in Sydney
On her bike
Pushing her bike
Winning in Toronto