Unlikely source gives Canada its 11th medal
Canada's Simon Whitfield talks to reporters after crashing and retreating from the men's triathlon at Hyde Park during the Summer Olympics in London on Tuesday, August 7, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
LONDON - Canada returned to the podium at the London Olympics on Tuesday, but the medal came from an unlikely source.
On a day that saw triathlete Simon Whitfield and track cyclist Tara Whitten suffer crushing disappointment, it was little-known high-jumper Derek Drouin who claimed Canada's 11th medal at the Games.
The 22-year-old from Corunna, Ont., won a surprising bronze after finishing in a three-way tie with Great Britain's Robert Grabarz and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim.
All three competitors cleared 2.29 metres without any misses, but each failed on three attempts at 2.33 metres.
Drouin says he kept his focus despite competing in front of 80,000 fans in London's Olympic Stadium.
"I do a good job of getting out there and not noticing everything. I did not notice how big this stadium actually was until I was doing my victory lap," he said. "I do a pretty good job of zoning everything out, and that was lucky."
The medal is Canada's first in high jump since the 1976 Games in Montreal when Greg Joy won silver and came with the Canadian team experiencing somewhat of a podium drought in London.
Victoria swimmer Ryan Cochrane won silver in the 1,500 metres on Saturday but Canada had been stuck on 10 medals ever since with one gold, three silver and six bronze.
Canada still sits 12th in the overall medal standings, three back of the Netherlands for 11th.
A three-time NCAA champion for Indiana University, Drouin suffered a foot injury in March 2011 that sidelined him for eight months.
"My doctor made it very clear that if I was going to qualify (for London) it was going to be very, very tight. The rehab was extensive, it was very long," said Drouin. "Basically my goal was just to get through the season and get to the Olympics and get here."
Apart from Drouin's bronze, there was bitter disappointment for many Canadian athletes on Tuesday.
Whitfield's bid for a third Olympic medal ended abruptly after he was thrown from his bike and forced to withdraw from the triathlon.
It came after the 37-year-old put himself in good position with a strong swim. However, shortly after making the transition to his bike, he lost control while going over a speed bump and crashed into a metal barrier.
"I hit the speed bump on a funny angle and ended up crowd surfing, which is good for concerts and not so good for sport events," said Whitfield, who suffered minor injuries.
The Victoria resident was Canada's flag-bearer during the opening ceremony and arrived at the start line with hopes of adding to the gold he won in Sydney and the silver he claimed in Beijing.
Instead, he ended up in the arms of wife Jennie while the leaders continued to make their way around the scenic course through Hyde Park.
"That's not how I pictured the script ending," said Whitfield.
Meanwhile, Whitten finished a disappointing fourth in the women's six-race omnium.
The 32-year-old from Edmonton, a medal hopeful who won bronze in the women's team pursuit on Saturday, was distraught with the result.
"I have no regrets," Whitten said while fighting back tears. "I've loved this journey. And I've experienced success and disappointment, and a bit of everything. I mean, that's part of sport."
Drouin's success at the Olympic Stadium couldn't be matched by Phylicia George of Markham, Ont., and Calgary's Jessica Zelinka.
Both qualified for the final of the women's 100-metre hurdles, but George wound up sixth, while Zelinka was seventh.
In what is likely his final Olympics, Alex Despatie of Laval, Que., who suffered a serious training accident in June, finished 11th the men's three-metre springboard.
The syncronized swimming duo of Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon and Elise Marcotte narrowly missed out on the podium. Boudreau-Gagnon, from Riviere-du-Loup, Que., and Marcotte, from Quebec City, finished fourth with a score of 189.12 points.
The Canadian women's basketball team saw their Olympic tournament come to an end with a 91-48 loss in the quarter-finals to the top-ranked U.S.
Among other Canadian results:
— Kyle Jones of Oakville, Ont., was 25th in the triathlon, while Victoria's Brent McMahon finished 27th.
— Welterweight boxer Custio Clayton of Dartmouth, N.S., lost his quarter-final bout to Great Britain's Freddie Evans. The Canadian team's appeal was rejected by Olympic boxing officials.
— Toronto's Aaron Brown and Jared Connaughton of New Haven, P.E.I., both advanced to the semifinals of the men's 200 metres.
— Vancouver's Zac Plavsic placed 10th in windsurfing.
— Emilie Fournel of Lachine, Que., finished sixth in her semifinal in the 500-metre K-1 and didn't qualify for the final.
— Halifax's Geoff Harris finished seventh the semifinals of the men's 800-metre race and did not advance.
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