August 24, 2008
Cockburn a class act for
Trampolinist will carry Canada's banner into closing
For someone who bounces up and down so much, Karen
Cockburn has never been the outgoing type.
But Sunday night in Beijing (6 a.m. ET on CBC), the Toronto native
will be front and centre on the world stage, carrying Canada's flag
into the closing ceremony of an Olympics she helped turn into a
solid success for her home country.
It marks the end of a journey that began 16 years ago when she
was 11 and climbed up on a trampoline for the first time in a workshop
run by her future coach Dave Ross.
That journey has continued through three Olympics, 10 Canadian
national championships, a world title and a couple of bad knee injuries.
Along the way, the resident of Stouffville, Ont., has won a bronze
medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, a silver in Athens four years
ago and a silver this year. Through it all she has never been anything
but the best of representatives for her country and for a relatively
young sport the public rarely sees.
"I was so overwhelmed and shocked," Cockburn told the
CBC's Scott Russell on Sunday morning in Beijing after being officially
introduced as the closing ceremony flag-bearer. "I don't think
the smile has left my face."
Cockburn, 27, is married to fellow trampoline athlete Mathieu Turgeon
and 10 months away from hyper-extending a knee while training for
the world championships.
"She was at the height of her game when she injured he knee,"
Turgeon told the CBC prior to Beijing. "She was very worried
if she was even going to be able to practise the sport again, let
alone compete at the world championships. It was devastating for
But it didn't stop her.
Cockburn rehabilitated, regrouped and got to the worlds where she
finished fifth in the preliminaries, guaranteeing not only her place
at the Beijing Olympics but also that of teammate Rosannagh MacLennan.
Only then did Cockburn have knee surgery, a procedure that kept
her off the tramp for two months, until February.
It all led to Aug. 18 in Beijing, where she took the silver medal
with a score of 37.00, a mere .80 behind gold medallist He Wenna
That performance made Cockburn the fifth Canadian to win a medal
in three-straight Olympics, joining Phil Edwards in track and field
(1928, 1932 and 1936), rowing coxswain Leslie Thompson-Willie (1992,
1996, 2000), kayaker Caroline Brunet (1996, 2000, 2004) and diver
Emilie Heymans (2000, 2004, 2008).
But don't expect her to flaunt it. It's not in this athlete's makeup.
"I will have a huge smile as I walk into the closing ceremonies
tonight," she said.