By Andrew Mitchell and Adam Daff
Canada got off to a slow start in Athens this week, with just one bronze medal in the womens 10-metre synchronized diving event won by Emilie Heymans and Blythe Hartley. Heymans, who hails from St-Lambert, Quebec and Hartley, who is from North Vancouver, were underdogs heading into the synchronized diving finals, although they are both strong contenders in the individual diving events.
Unfortunately for Canada, the biggest splash so far was caused by professional event crasher Ron Bensinhom of Montreal, who climbed out of the stands and dove into the pool wearing a blue tutu and white leggings. He had the logo for GoldenPalace.com painted on his body, but the popular online casino denies sanctioning this particular publicity stunt.
Bensinhom refused offers of legal aid from the Canadian embassy and a day later was hit with a five-month jail sentence, which was suspended, and a 2,0000 Euro fine ($3,225 Cdn).
He also was released sporting a black eye and chipped teeth, claiming he was beat up by police officers while in custody.
At the end of the day on Wednesday, Canada stood tied for 38 th place on the medal list with just the one bronze medal after five days of competition. Some of the countries ahead of Canada this year include the United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe, India (winning its first Olympic medal), and Indonesia.
Still, low medal counts dont tell the whole story for Team Canada. Put in a bit of context, and its not as bad as it looks.
For cycling fans, it looked as if Quebecs Lyne Bessette would be bringing home a medal in the road race after catching up to the lead group with a strong break. Then defending Olympic champion Leontin van Moorsel clipped the wheel of the rider ahead of her after the eighth lap of the course, crashing and taking out several riders. Bessette was one of them, injuring her knees, hip and shoulder and damaging her bike.
After she was back on her feet, Bessette was forced to wait for her support vehicles to replace her wheels, something that took far too long. After several minutes went by she gave up waiting, and pulled out of the race to seek medical attention.
Canada blamed the late assistance on the fact that the team was forced to share its support vehicle with Brazil and China. At the last minute teams discovered that only the top-ranked racers would get their own cars in the race.
Sue Palmer-Komar tried to pick up where Bessette left off for Canada, and had worked her way into the front before the elite group caught her and left her behind on the final climb. She finished in 11 th place.