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September 16, 2000

Crash may cost Montgomery second event

Globe and Mail

Sydney — Carol Montgomery's Saturday-morning bike crash may have cost her two shots at an Olympic medal. The first to go was a possible podium finish in the Olympic debut of women's triathlon. Now, with a bruised body and a possible fractured left wrist, Montgomery may be out of the running in the 10,000 metres event set for Sept. 27 at Stadium Australia.

Montgomery, Canada's top female triathlete, was sent headfirst into the pavement during a three-bike crash midway through the cycling portion of the Sydney triathlon. She fell so hard that the force of the impact shattered her bike helmet and took her out of the competition.

Sharon Donnelly, of Ottawa, also crashed while cycling but was able to get back into the race and finish 38th. Isabelle Turcotte-Baird of Quebec City was the top Canadian finishing 31st.

“I hit my head so hard I was surprised I was still awake,” said Montgomery, 34, from North Vancouver, who will undergo x-rays tomorrow to determine the severity of her wrist injury. “I couldn't believe I could hit my head that hard. It shattered my helmet ... I sort of prepared myself for the worst and the worst happened. I have another chance in 11 days to redeem myself and hopefully that will go better.”

Even if x-rays show her wrist is not broken, Montgomery admitted that missing out on the triathlon's 10-kilometers run, along with training time in the next few days, would seriously affect her chances of doing well in the 10,000, her favourite of the two events.

“I know I'll be a lot more sore tomorrow. I'm not going to go out there and embarrass myself on the track, especially after what happened today. I'll know better in a couple of days,” she said.

Montgomery leveled no criticism at Great Britain's Sian Brice, the cyclist who fell and caused the crash that took out Montgomery. Instead, Montgomery said the course here was too narrow and that organizers should have done more to enhance the safety of the athletes. All totaled, there were eight women who fell during the 40-kilometre bike race.

“The men usually have a crash or two but it's rare for the women to crash. It's definitely the course. Was there pressure on the racers to do well? That was part of it. The course was so narrow, and along the way there were manhole covers and potholes,” she said. “That's the problem in our sport with motorcycles on course and trying to make it spectator friendly and TV friendly.

The potholes and manhole covers, at least put a warning sign ... They (race organizers) try to make compromises. I guess this is the best they can do.”

Montgomery's only other crash in a triathlon was seven years ago when a motorcycle cut her off. Since then, she had overcome several obstacles, including surgery in her left leg, to be ranked as one of the top triathletes in the world. She said it would be unfair if she now had to sit out the 10,000.

“I wouldn't be a happy camper, that's for sure.”

Switzerland's Brigitte McMahon and Magali Messmer won the gold and bronze medal, respectively. Australian Michellie Jones took the silver.

reprinted with permission

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