Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jones boots her third off team

Overton-Clapham stunned by dismissal

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The Jennifer Jones curling team dropped a bombshell Thursday night with the announcement that they have dumped third Cathy Overton-Clapham from their three-time defending Canadian champion squad.

Overton-Clapham, the most decorated women's curler in Manitoba history and a member of the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame, was summoned to a team meeting on Wednesday and informed by Jones that her services were no longer required.

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Overton-Clapham said Thursday night that she had no indication there was any problem -- her team has, after all, won the last three Canadian women's titles -- and was stunned by the news.

"I had absolutely no idea. When we were talking, I wasn't really even listening because I was blown away," Overton-Clapham said. "But then they sent me an email later saying they were looking for someone with more energy, more excitement, more vision."

They certainly won't find anyone with more championships. Overton-Clapham has won five Canadian women's curling titles -- one short of Colleen Jones's record of six -- as well as a world women's title and a Canadian junior title.

She has represented Manitoba or Canada at 11 national women's curling championships -- a Manitoba record.

Jones has a long history -- and an unenvied reputation -- for ruthlessly dumping teammates.

In a statement, the team said they made the move with the 2014 Sochi Olympics in mind.

"Our goal is to represent Canada at the World Women's Curling Championship and the Olympics. To do that, we need to take steps now to ensure we will have a complete set of skills and strengths come 2014," Jones said in the statement, which the team released late last night after the Free Press began making inquiries.

Overton-Clapham said she attended the team meeting Wednesday thinking her teammates -- Jones, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin -- were going to discuss the team's schedule for the upcoming season.

"I was thinking people were going to say they wanted a lighter schedule, maybe have some babies. And instead they told me I was gone... That's why I was so surprised. And now I'm wondering: How long has this been going on?"

Overton-Clapham said she was told the other three team members will be staying together. She said she didn't know who the team was going to replace her with.

What she does know, however, is that she's now in a terrible jam.

"Look at all the things I earned the right to compete in that have been taken away -- Team Canada, the Canada Cup, the Continental Cup, all of it."

The Jones foursome is coming off a bittersweet winter. They won their third straight Canadian title but missed the big prize -- representing Canada at the Winter Olympics. They also had to settle for bronze at the worlds and most recently lost out in the quarter-finals at The Players Championship.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 23, 2010 C5

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