the latest casualty
By ALLAN MAKI
Globe and Mail Update
Sydney The theme
song for Canada's Olympic track team must surely be 'Another
One Bites the Dust.'
Wednesday's first casualty, Leah Pells, was competing in
her qualifying round of the women's 1,500 metres but pulled out of the race a little more
than a few strides from the starting line. Pells, 25, from Vancouver, hobbled to the
infield grass, sat down and began crying.
Later, Canadian team officials helped her to the Stadium
Australia medical area where she was then dispatched to a clinic. Assistant track coach
Wynn Gmitroski said Pells had been bothered by a sore foot and was worried before the race
"The last thing she said was, It's really
sore. Have some ice ready,'" said Gmitroski. "She's had a sore foot. She ran the
800 on the Gold Coast (in training) and things were all right. A couple of days later, her
foot was extremely sore. We suspected a stress fracture. She got an MRI and it was
Pells had a remarkable race four years ago at the Atlanta
Olympics, finishing fourth. She was hoping to at least match that performance but her foot
problems, likely from wear and tear, proved too much of a hindrance.
"I saw her take one stride," said Gmitroski.
"She was at the back of the pack. She had a slow start, and then she was out."
The bad karma continued when Carol Montgomery, the
Vancouver 10,000-metres runner, pulled out of her qualifying run because of back problems.
Montgomery was nursing a sore back before she helped open the Sydney Games by competing in
the women's triathlon on Day 1.
Montgomery was considered a potential medal threat in
triathlon but was taken out of the race when she and two other competitors were involved
in a bike crash. Montgomery hit her head on the pavement and twisted her back but thought
she could get enough rest to run in the 10,000.
Montgomery was hoping to become the first Canadian women
to compete in two events at the same Olympics. She has previously represented Canada in
track at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, B.C., and also ran at the world
cross-country championships in 1995 and 1996.
Pells and Montgomery were the latest in a growing list of
Canadian athletes who have struggled here to compete let alone finish their races. Former
Olympic champion Donovan Bailey pulled up mid-way through his 100-meters race. He had been
bothered by the 'flu. Bruny Surin, picked by many to win a medal in the 100, pulled up
after feeling the effects of a sore hamstring.
Without Bailey and Surin, there is little hope the
Canadian relay team will be able to defend its gold medal win in Atlanta.
Then it was Katie Anderson who had to be assisted off the
track after tearing her hamstring in the second round of the women's 100-metres hurdles.
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