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    Wednesday, February 25, 1998

    No rest for the winners

    By RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun
      Jeremy Wotherspoon wants to still be skating when the 2002 Olympics roll around, and not just to go for more medals.
     "I learned at the Olympics what it's all about, and that's probably makes me want to go (back) the most," said the travel-weary silver medallist.
     "Meeting new people, experiencing new things and having fun. I think I met almost everyone on the Canadian Olympic team. I talked a lot with Al MacInnis, and that was pretty neat."
     But there's also some unfinished business for the 21-year-old speed skater who finished second in the 500 metres. He's the World Cup points leader in both the 500 and 1,000 metres, so he expected to return with more than one decoration around his neck.
     "I felt I could have done better than I did," he admits. "The first day of the 500, I was too nervous; and I couldn't get rid of the nervous feeling.
     "I did the same things I do normally, and I still couldn't get rid of the nerves. The second day, I had nothing to lose and I just said, 'Who cares if I fall, I'm in seventh,' and went as hard as I could."
     Now he'll focus on the remaining World Cup season and World Championships.
     "I hate to say it, but there's a bit of a money incentive to finish in the position I'm in, first in both the 500 and 1,000 in the World Cup," he sheepishly admitted.
     Despite the jet lag -- the skaters had to detour to Toronto on Monday before returning to Calgary -- Derrick Campbell was still floating on air when he got home.
     Campbell, part of the gold-medal winning 5,000-metre short track team, was still in awe of being an Olympic champion.
     "I always thought it would be more special to win as an individual," said Campbell, 26, who's called Calgary home the last six years. "Winning in the relay, I knew it would be special, but I really didn't think it would compare to winning as an individual.
     "Something has to be said about winning with three other guys who are just as proud, just as excited. It would be really, really hard for me right now to possibly imagine an individual win being more sweet."
     Especially considering what he went through to get to Nagano.
     In January, he crashed and cut his quadricep muscle for 40 stitches. And even though he failed to qualify for the 500 metres -- in which he's the defending world champ -- he didn't quit.
     "I worked hard on getting better and getting myself in condition to skate the relay," proudly stated the three-time Olympian.
     Now Campbell's deciding his future.
     Without any sponsorship, the cost of surviving is weighing mightily on the Cambridge, Ont., native.
     "Last year, I was world champion in the 500, and I thought, 'Prime Time. The Olympics were coming.'
     "I sent a lot of packages, and it was nothing doing. That was disappointing," he said. "I think it would improve my skating not having to worry about it. I'll be honest: If the right opportunity came up, I might skate for another 12 years."
     But if nothing pans out, Campbell can take heart the reward was worth the wait.
     "The last two Olympics I sat out on peak performances. At Albertville, I was the alternate for the silver-medal team. Lillehammer, I made two finals, and no medals," he said. "To come away with gold with the talent that was in that final is remarkable. I couldn't possibly ever imagine a feeling like that in my life again."