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Saturday, September 16, 2000
Day of pain and disappointment for Canadian athletes at Olympics


 SYDNEY (CP) -- Pain and disappointment were the bitter themes for Canadian athletes at the Sydney Olympics on Saturday.

 North Vancouver's Carol Montgomery, touted as a medal contender, set the dark mood for the day when she hit the pavement hard after being caught up in a crash ahead of her during the bike portion of the women's triathlon.

 The fall was so severe it shattered her helmet.

 "I'm so glad I was wearing a helmet," Montgomery, cradling her wrist, told the CBC in an interview.

 "I just feel I'm really lucky to come out of there still walking," she added.

 Other Canadian medal hopefuls also crashed and burned Saturday, as Hamilton's Joanne Malar finished a disappointing seventh in the final of the 400-metre individual medley, and Montreal's Sasha Jeltkov, co-ranked No. 1 in the world in the horizontal bar, failed to advance past the preliminary round in the event.

 Cyclist Tanya Dubnicoff of Winnipeg, also expected to contend for a medal, finished eighth in the women's 500-metre time trial.

 On a positive front, Canada tied three-time champion Pakistan 2-2 in men's field hockey play on the strength of goals by Ken Pereira of Unionville, Ont., and Sean Campbell of Victoria.

 The Canadian women's water polo team rallied to tie Russia 7-7 in their first game of the preliminary round. Ann Dow of Montreal had three goals to lead Canada.

 Edmonton swimmer Morgan Knabe qualified for the 100-metre breaststroke final. George Leary of Newmarket, Ont., stood fifth after the first day of men's trap shooting.

 And the women's 4x100-metre freestyle relay team of Malar, Laura Nicholls of Kitchener, Ont., Winnipeg's Shannon Shakespeare and Marianne Limpert of Fredericton set a pair of national records en route to finishing seventh in their swim final.

 But elsewhere there was little to celebrate as Canadians took their lumps at the Games.

 Montgomery was to undergo X-rays to determine whether her wrist -- which she described as "pretty bad" -- was broken. She also lost flesh on her hip after hitting the pavement. Triathletes have little protection from "road rash" given the bathing suits they wear on the bike.

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

 It was one of eight reported crashes on the tight course, which came under fire from the Canadians.

 "People had jitters today. I think people were doing some dumb things out there," said Ottawa's Sharon Donnelly, who survived her own crash to finish the race and had a bloody elbow, skinned thigh and a very sore lower back to show for it.

 Donnelly was emotional as she viewed footage of crossing the finish line in 38th spot.

 "I remember crashing and all I could think of was 'I want to get up and finish the race,'" she said. "I've worked so hard and I wanted to cross the finish line."

 The top Canadian was Isabelle Turcotte-Baird of Quebec City in 31st.

 Switzerland's Brigitte McMahon beat Australian Michellie Jones in a sprint finish to win the gold. Magali Messmer of Switzerland took the bronze.

 Montgomery was also scheduled to compete in the 10,000-metre track event, but now it appears as if her injuries will put those plans in jeopardy.

 Jeltkov's poor result came a day after gymnast Emilie Fournier learned she will be unable to compete due to torn ligaments and a small chip fracture of the ankle. Fournier injured herself in practice Thursday.

 "We were expecting to reach the final," said Serge Castonguay, the coach of the disappointed contingent.

 Malar swam a time of four minutes 42.65 seconds in Saturday morning's preliminaries. It placed her second in her heat and was good enough to reach Saturday's finals with the sixth-best time overall. But she fizzled in the final.

 "It didn't happen for me today," Malar told CBC. "But I'm not giving up, I have the 200 IM in a couple of days."

 Victoria's Derek Porter received a favourable draw but other Canadian crews will be in tough when the Olympic rowing regatta begins.

 Porter's single sculls opponents in his heat Sunday are not among the world's top-ranked men, but he is expected to win the first heat and advance to Thursday's semifinal.

 Victoria's Kristen Wall, the spare who was activated to fill the women's single sculls spot Marnie McBean vacated due to injury, faces reigning world champion Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus in her heat.

 Emma Robinson of Winnipeg and Theresa Luke of 100 Mile House, B.C., the reigning world women's pairs champions, face an impressive Australian crew that beat them in Lucerne in the last big pre-Olympic regatta in July.

 In other action:

 --Canada's women's basketball team lost 78-46 to Australia.

 --Sharon Bowes of Waterloo, Ont., failed to qualify for the final in the women's 10-metre air rifle.

 --Vancouver fencer Laurie Shong was knocked out in the round of 32 in men's individual epee, dropping a 14-13 decision to Attila Fekete of Hungary. Shong beat David Nathan of Australia 15-8 in the first round earlier on Saturday.

 --The women's 4x100-metre freestyle relay team of Malar, Laura Nicholls of Kitchener, Ont., Winnipeg's Shannon Shakespeare and Marianne Limpert of Fredericton finished seventh in their swim final. The Canadians were clocked in 3:42.92, good enough to establish a national record -- their second of the day.
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