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Olympics2012Olympic Hot Sheet: The thin white line

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012 | 04:15 PM

Categories: Olympics2012

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Canadian relay team members Jared Connaughton, bottom, Justyn Warner, right, and Oluseyi Smith were in the midst of celebrating an apparent bronze medal when they learned of their disqualification. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press) Canadian relay team members Jared Connaughton, bottom, Justyn Warner, right, and Oluseyi Smith were in the midst of celebrating an apparent bronze medal when they learned of their disqualification. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

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A guide to what happened Saturday, and what to look for Sunday, at the Olympic Games in London, including a devastating DQ in the 4x100 relay, and our best guess at which athlete will carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremony.
A guide to what happened Saturday, and what to look for Sunday, at the Olympic Games in London, including a devastating DQ in the 4x100 relay, and our best guess at which athlete will carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremony.

The thin white line

Canada appeared to have won its first medal in the men's 4x100-metre relay since Donovan Bailey and company captured gold in 1996 when anchor Justyn Warner crossed the line third behind Jamaica and the U.S. But the Canadians were disqualified after officials saw that Jared Connaughton, the third of four runners, had stepped on the lane marker with his left foot near the end of his leg.

Word of the DQ devastated the Canadians, who were in the midst of a boisterous celebration after seeing their placing posted on the scoreboard. A distraught Connaughton later tweeted: "I'm so sorry everyone. My heart is broken. I let my team down. I'm sorry."

Usain Bolt completed the 100-200-4x100 sweep for the second consecutive Olympics, anchoring the winning Jamaican team to gold in a world-record time of 36.84, beating the mark of 37.04 they set at last year's world championships.

Heartbreak mountain

Before the devastating relay DQ, Canada's last, best chance at winning a second gold medal died at Hadleigh Farm in Essex, where women's mountain bike favourite Catharine Pendrel struggled to a ninth-place finish.

Pendrel is the reigning world champion, and she won the Olympic test event last year. But on this day she just "didn't have it," as she said in an emotional television interview after the race.

Canada has a few more athletes left to compete on the final day, but none are considered top contenders, so trampolinist Rosie MacLennan will likely go down as the country's lone gold medallist in London.

The same, but not equal

Not all was lost on Day 15, as kayaker Mark de Jonge nosed out a challenger to take the bronze medal in the men's kayak singles 200-metre event.

That puts Canada at 18 medals, 12 of which are bronze. The count will likely stop there, with the Canadian team at the same number of medals it won in Beijing. We'll give the 2008 team the edge, though, because of its advantages in both gold medals (3-1) and silver (9-5).

Who carries the flag?

The Canadian team is expected to announce at 7 a.m. ET the name of the athlete selected to carry the Maple Leaf at the closing ceremony on Sunday.

So who will get the job? MacLennan is certainly in the running by virtue of being the only gold medallist, but her victory didn't grip the country the way the women's soccer team did with its dramatic bronze-medal win. Throw in the way the squad bounced back from its heartbreaking (and controversial) loss to the U.S. in the semis, and the guess here is the flag bearer will be a soccer player. And if it's a soccer player, it's going to be Christine Sinclair. She's the captain, the best player in the history of Canadian women's soccer, and she scored a hat trick in that near-upset of the mighty Americans. The public seems to agree.

Looking ahead...

A couple other things to watch on the final day of the Games:

  • The men's marathon goes in its traditional slot on the closing day (6 a.m. ET). Canada's Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Dylan Wykes don't really have a shot at a medal, but they'll try to break the Canadian record of 2:10:08.4 set by Jerome Drayton in December 1975. That's the oldest athletics record on the books in this country.
  • The U.S. men's basketball team defends its gold medal against Spain (10 a.m. ET) in a rematch of the 2008 Olympic title game. The Americans won that one 118-107 behind 27 points from Dwyane Wade and seven rebounds from Chris Bosh. Both guys, who are now teammates on the NBA champion Miami Heat, had to give up their Olympic spots this time around because of injuries. Coach Mike Krzyzewski confirmed Saturday this will be his last time guiding the American team.

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