The final week of the games
Canada’s team leader, Ken Read, called the ruling “obscene.” And Frechette, when asked in French whether she felt that she deserved the gold instead of the silver, laughed gently and replied, “Dans mon coeur (in my heart).” In Montreal, Frechette’s brother, 21-year-old Martin, declared: “She is better than a gold medallist. Here, in Quebec, she’s a queen.”
Other competitors also came away with less than they expected. Critchlow, the 23-year-old world-champion kayaker in the 500-m event, did not even make the finals in his specialty. “In the 500 m,” said the native of Nepean, Ont., an Ottawa suburb, “you go as hard as you can and die. That’s what happened: with 100 m to go, I just had no gas.”
Smith, the 24-year-old decathlete who finished second at last summer’s World Track and Field Championships in Tokyo, withdrew from his gruelling 10-part event after completing the first day’s competition in 21st place–the result of continued problems with a hamstring muscle that he pulled last May. “My whole first day was down, from the 100 m right on,” said the University of Toronto student. After watching the competition on TV in Smith’s home town of Kenora, Ont., his mother, Bernice, said: “I was feeling his pain in my stomach. We knew something had really gone wrong.” In the end, the decathlon crown went not to Smith or favored Dave Johnson of the United States, but to Czechoslovak Robert Zmelik.
In a week packed with surprises–including the shocking failure of the Unified Team’s world record-holding pole-vaulter Sergei Bubka–the Canadians provided their share. Mark McKoy dashed to a gold medal in the 110-m hurdles–and enjoyed a measure of vindication. He served a two-year suspension from athletics after departing early from the Seoul Olympics in the wake of Ben Johnson’s positive steroid test; later, he admitted that he had also used steroids for a period in 1988. Last week, McKoy, who has trained in Wales since November, was gracious after his victory. He gave the credit for his success to his Welsh-based training partner and coach, but added: “It is not too often that we have a Canadian flag going around the track, and I was really proud to put it around myself and take that lap.”
Ross MacDonald, 27, of Vancouver, and Eric Jespersen, 30, of Sidney, B.C., savored the joys of their bronze medal in Star-class sailing. Victoria-based runner Angela Chalmers, 28, who won bronze in the 3,000 m, declared: “I’m ecstatic that I got a medal. But I enjoyed this whole process, and if I can keep that attitude, I think I’ll stay in the sport for a long time.” Chalmers is one of nine children, a status Indian who is a member of Manitoba’s Birdtale Sioux band. Her Olympic success, said her 24-year-old brother Stuart, who lives on the reserve, “is important for this community, but I’m sure that kids all over will listen to her, not just native kids.”
Wrestler Jeffrey Thue of Port Moody, B.C., went home with a silver but without any burning determination to stick with his sport. A stone-cutter who is two-thirds of the way towards an undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University, Thue says that competing “is not the be-all and end-all–I’m lucky to have a wife and two healthy children.” Last week, the six-foot, six-inch, 260-lb. athlete was eager to rejoin them for what he said was a favorite pastime: “Just lying on the floor and letting the kids maul me.”