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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Medal hopes go 'thud'

Shot put hopeful Armstrong falls short in final, finishing fifth

Posted: 08/4/2012 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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LONDON -- As Dylan Armstrong's fifth and final throw fell with a thud well short of the 21-metre mark, one of Canada's biggest medal hopes at the London Games came to a disappointing end.

At least he was spared the heartbreak of missing the podium by an excruciatingly slim margin this time.

Armstrong finished fifth in men's shot put on Friday, his best shot of 20.93 metres landing 30 centimetres behind the bronze-medal mark. It was a deflating end to Armstrong's quest to put his near miss at the 2008 Beijing Games -- where he missed the podium by less than a centimetre -- behind him.

Still, Armstrong said he wasn't as upset about missing out on a medal this time.

"Not as much because it was so close (in Beijing), to come a centimetre, that's pretty tight," the native of Kamloops, B.C., said. "At least it wasn't by a centimetre this time, if you want to look at it that way. But I'm going to keep my head up and just go hard next year and see what happens there, and hopefully try to get a gold at the world championships.

"You've got to move ahead, this is a tough sport."

It was a tough day for all of Canada's medal hopefuls on Day 7 of these Games. Rowers Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen, silver medallists in Beijing, finished last in the men's coxless pair final. And Jason Burnett, who also won silver at the last Games, stumbled early in his routine and settled for eighth in the men's trampoline final. Canada was shut out of the medals after winning hardware for three straight days.

Canada holds at seven medals, two silver and five bronze, and is tied for 11th in the overall standings with Romania.

It wasn't all bad news, as some Canadian athletes set themselves up for a run at a medal. The women's basketball team upset Brazil 79-73 to clinch a spot in the quarter-finals.

And while Armstrong wasn't able to give Canada an athletics medal, Jessica Zelinka was third after four events in the heptathlon, surging into a medal position after languishing in 19th after a poor high jump. The London, Ont., native ran the 200 metres in a personal-best time of 23.32 seconds to complete her turnaround.

Determined to improve on his fourth-place finish in Beijing, Armstrong upped his game and became the top-ranked shot putter in the world last year. But an elbow injury earlier this year limited his training, and he seemed a half-step behind medallists.

"That affected it quite a bit, I'm not going to lie, taking almost a month off and then nursing it for another three weeks after," Armstrong said. "Big thanks to my medical team, without those guys I wouldn't even be throwing here."

Poland's Tomasz Majewski won gold at 21.89 metres, saving his best throw for last and passing Germany's David Storl's mark of 21.86 metres. Reese Hoffa of the United States was third in 21.23 metres.

On the water, Victoria's Calder and Frandsen, from Kelowna, B.C., were Canada's final chance to add to its rowing haul. But they finished their race in six minutes 30.49 seconds, nowhere near gold-medal winning New Zealand, which dominated in 6:16.65. France won the silver, while Britain took bronze.

The pair were surprised with the result, considering they thought their pace was competitive.

"It's tough to nail down," said Frandsen. "It felt like we had a pretty solid piece (going). We got into a really lively rhythm at 39 strokes a minute, 40. It felt pretty efficient. It just wasn't there."

Canada ended up with two rowing silvers, compared to a gold, a silver and two bronze in Beijing.

In trampoline, Burnett was out of the running early. He made a mistake on the first of his 10 skills and had to settle for an eighth-place finish. A slight over-rotation affected his second move and Burnett was forced to land along the padded edge that protects the springs.

He flailed in the air toward the middle of the trampoline and landed on his feet as a look of crushing disappointment washed over his face.

"I felt there was a lot I could have improved upon and I knew the mistakes I'd made and I was ready to correct them," the native of Nobleton, Ont., said. "It's just that I didn't get there."

The women's basketball team earned its first win over Brazil in 12 years to guarantee a berth in the quarter-finals. Kim Smith of Mission, B.C., and Ottawa's Courtnay Pilypaitis each had 14 points to lead Canada. Erika Souza and Clarissa Santos scored 22 and 21 points respectively for Brazil.

The Canadians will meet Australia on Sunday.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 4, 2012 C7

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