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Saturday, September 30, 2000

Bosshart wins bronze in taekwondo


 SYDNEY (CP) -- The biggest obstacle in Dominique Bosshart's path to an Olympic bronze medal in taekwondo Saturday lay not in her final match but rather in the Venezuelan blocking her route in the repechage.

 To get to the bronze-medal match, the Winnipeg heavyweight had to get past Adriana Carmona, who had won all four previous meetings.

 "In '98, I had a bad year; she kicked my butt pretty good," Bosshart said after her bronze-medal victory. "Since then, I was really afraid of her.

 "I was like a mouse in there. I always thought she was so much stronger than me."

 But Bosshart saw a crack in Carmona's armour last year.

 "At the Pan Am Games last year, I finally started to open up on her and start doing more techniques on her," Bosshart said. "So I remembered that today."

 She beat the Venezuelan and, less than 30 minutes later, was facing Croatian Natasa Vezmar for the bronze in her fourth bout of the day.

 "I was OK," she said. "I was still on a high from beating Carmona. I still had the adrenalin going."

 Bosshart's favourite move is a 360-degree kick to the opponent's head in which she wheels full circle on one leg and kicks with all her force: a roundhouse kick.

 "It covers a lot of ground when someone is trying to get away from you," she said. "It works sometimes and sometimes it doesn't."

 It worked Saturday.

 As she had done in all of her matches on Saturday, Bosshart fell behind early against Vezmar, trailing 3-2 after the first round and 5-4 in the second round. A roundhouse flurry gave Bosshart her first lead of the match with 58 seconds left and she went on to win 11-8.

 Vezmar left the mat in tears.

 Chen Zhong of China beat Natalia Ivanova of Russia 8-3 to win the gold in the over-67-kilogram class. Ivanova had handed Bosshart her lone loss of the day, sending her into the repechage where fourth places was all she was left to shoot for.

 For a while, it didn't look like she would get a chance to fight for the bronze. Carmona, a silver medallist at the 1993 world championships, took a commanding 10-5 lead early in the third and final round before Bosshart clicked into gear with a little help from her nemesis.

 "I think she took it too lightly," Bosshart said. "She thought she had it in the bag completely.

 "She started to back away and that was to my advantage."

 Bosshart went on full round-house attack against Carmona, spinning and spinning kicks towards her retreating target, and the crowd at the State Sports Centre roared with their approval as they sensed a thrilling finish.

 Carmona's lead slipped to 10-9 as the buzzer sounded, but it was Bosshart who was celebrating. She knew the referee was going to deduct two points from the Venezuelan for backing away.

 "I just knew," she said. "The referee went for his notepad. That's why I was jumping around like that."

 Bosshart doesn't remember ever coming from that far behind to win and she credited her strong mental state for getting her to the podium.

 "There was a lot of psychological toughness that I had to go through to beat her," she said.

 Bosshart had to wait until the second-last day of the Games to get going and then fit in four bouts in 11 hours.

 "It was a bit of a long wait," she said. "I think I dealt with that pretty well.

 "I was sort of worried and thinking, 'This is so long.' The village is totally relaxed and in party mode and some people were a little loud last night."

 Bosshart, a silver medallist at the world championships in Edmonton last year, said she wasn't disappointed about not winning gold.

 "I had as many fights as I would have for a gold medal," she said. "And they were tough fights -- they were the brawlers."

 Now she hopes her medal in the sport's Olympic debut will do wonders for her sport in Canada.

 "I hope it does. Taekwondo is an awesome sport, a new sport. I think it deserves the attention. It's not easy, it's tough.

 "It's hard to hit people with your feet."

 Bosshart, with a little help from the federal government, paid most of her own way to Sydney.

 "Hopefully we'll get more sponsorship, not just for me but for the sport in general," she said. "I don't have any right now. But I'm open for the taking."

Reprinted with permission

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