There is no flag bearer’s curse. At least for Rosie MacLennan.
One week after the pint-sized Torontonian hoisted the red Maple Leaf and led Team Canada into Rio’s Maracana Stadium for the Parade of Athletes, she defended her 2012 Olympic title, winning a second gold in women’s trampoline, Friday.
“It’s so surreal. I’m so excited and really proud,” a beaming MacLennan told reporters. “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to come out here to compete at the Olympics again. I can’t even describe it.”
For a while, it seemed like the 27-year-old might fall victim to a historical trend that has seen more than a few of Canada’s flag bearers struggle at the Games. A disappointing first routine left her sitting sixth in the preliminaries. But her second series of flips, twists and somersaults earned the second-highest score of the afternoon, and sent her into the medal round ranked third overall.
In the one-round bounce-off, MacLennan’s 16-second battle against gravity scored 56.465 points, putting her in first, just .42 ahead of Bryony Page of Great Britain. Both had to nervously wait for the judges’ verdict on the final two jumpers. But when China’s He Wenna, winner of the gold at Beijing 2008, scored just 55.885, MacLennan’s second Olympic championship was in the bag.
A few minutes later, she took the top step of the podium, raised both arms in the air and gave a jazz-hands salute to the crowd. Later, after “O Canada” played, she donned a Canadian flag like a cape, and paraded around the Rio Olympic Arena showing off her hard-won hardware.
Earlier in the week, MacLennan had taken to Twitter to express her joy at Canada’s fast start to these Olympics. “The last few days in Rio have been incredible,” she wrote. “All the hard work and sacrifice leads to this!”
Now she’s made her own contribution to Canada’s momentum-filled first week in Rio. Her gold, the country’s second of the Games, came after a morning silver in the women’s lightweight double sculls from Patricia Obee and Lindsay Jennerich of Victoria. Four years ago in London, the pair had failed to make the medal final, despite having won the world championships the year before. On Friday, in the wind and drizzle on Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas at the foot of Corcovado mountain, they refused to be denied their latest chance at Olympic glory.
In fifth place at the halfway 1,000-m mark, they pulled their way back into contention, catching and passing boats from South Africa, China and New Zealand, making up a 1.63-second deficit and almost catching the winning Dutch crew with a desperate push over the final 500 m.
“My body is in shock in every way from a 2K race and from being on an Olympic podium, which is 12 years in the making,” said the 34-year-old Jennerich. “It’s surreal and the purest form of happy.”
Before the race, their coach Tom Morris had left each of the women a motivational message, scrawled on a piece of duct tape stuck over their footplates. The 24-year-old Obee’s said “Tunnel,” for the singular focus required to make the podium. For Jennerich, who in addition to her London disappointment had just missed out on a seat in the women’s-eight for Beijing, it read, “No regrets.”
The gold, silver, and Hilary Caldwell’s backstroke bronze at the pool Friday night, bring Canada’s Rio medal total to 10, on the seventh day of competition—all of them won by women. By sex, it’s the fourth-best showing of the Games, behind the U.S., China and Russia. Overall, Canada ranks 13th by golds, and 12th by total medals. So far, men from 42 other nations, including Uzbekistan, Fiji, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil had made it to the podium.
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