RIO DE JANEIRO – Rosie MacLennan’s historic defence of her Olympic trampoline title highlighted a three-medal day for Canada on Friday at the Rio Games.
MacLennan delivered an impressive mix of flips, twists and jumps in her final routine to repeat as women’s individual trampoline Olympic champion, becoming the first Canadian summer athlete to successfully defend an individual Olympic title.
“It feels incredible,” said MacLennan, who also won at the 2012 London Games. “I don’t know how it compares but it’s just absolutely amazing.”
MacLennan, from King City, Ont., just outside Toronto, had her trip to Rio in doubt after a pair of head injuries left her concussed. She battled headaches, vision issues and occasionally mixed up her words at times, a dangerous place to be when you’re jumping 25 feet high in the air and the trampoline looks more like a postage stamp than a large mat.
“In some ways it was really tough,” MacLennan said of the comeback. “But it was also a reminder of how much I really did love the sport. Because if I didn’t, I would have given up.”
Reigning world champion Li Dan of China followed with a score of 55.885, taking bronze when Tatsiana Piatrenia of Belarus settled for fifth with the final routine. That result gave Britain’s Bryony Page (56.040) the silver and MacLennan her second Olympic title.
MacLennan’s gold wasn’t the only medal Canada won on Friday, with rowers Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee relying on their powerful finishing kick for a silver medal in the women’s lightweight double sculls and swimmer Hilary Caldwell adding to Canada’s medal haul in the pool with a bronze in the women’s 200-metre backstroke.
Trailing by nearly three seconds at the halfway mark, the Victoria rowers closed the gap to 1.63 seconds heading into the final 500 metres.
“If we couldn’t do anything until the last 250, our last 250 is so strong I knew that we were going to get a bronze, at least,” said Obee. “The aura in the boat felt like we’re charging and it could be gold, it could be anything.”
They finished in seven minutes 5.88 seconds at Lagoa Stadium, just behind Ilse Paulis and Maaike Head of the Netherlands, who won gold in 7:04.73. China’s Huang Wenyi and Pan Feihong were third in 7:06.49.
Caldwell, from White Rock, B.C., finished the women’s 200-metre backstroke in a time of 2:07.54 to give Canada its sixth swimming medal of the Games.
“I looked up and saw the three lights on the blocks so I knew I was third,” said Caldwell. “I was happy, but I did want the gold medal. I think I saw the time and gave a little scowl.”
Madeline Dirado of the United States won gold in 2:05.99, upsetting Hungarian star swimmer Katinka Hosszu who settled for silver in 2:06.05.
Canada has 10 medals (two gold, two silver, six bronze) after seven days of competition and is well on its way to meeting the Canadian Olympic Committee’s goal of 19 total medals. Canada’s women athletes have accounted for all 10 of those medals.
There is potential for another medal in women’s soccer, as Sophie Schmidt’s second-half goal sent Canada into the semifinals with a 1-0 win over favoured France.
The 10th-ranked Canadian women are now one win from climbing the medal podium in back-to-back Games. They won bronze four years ago, defeating France by the same score.
The Canadians rushed off the bench to celebrate after the whistle blew on a tense final passage.
“I’m proud of the girls tonight,” Canada coach John Herdman said. “We showed that Canadian grit.”
Canada is 4-0-0 in Brazil and has dispatched three top-10 teams in No. 2 Germany, No. 3 France and No. 5 Australia. John Herdman’s team is on a roll.
Canada will play Germany again on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte.
Meanwhile, Toronto’s Daniel Nestor came up just short on winning his second Olympic medal when he and Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil were defeated 6-2, 6-4 by Americans Steve Johnson and Jack Sock in the men’s tennis doubles bronze-medal match.
The American never faced a break point and broke the Canadians on three of nine attempts.
“Obviously, it doesn’t feel so well, but hats off to them,” Nestor said. “They played very well, seeing the ball big and putting a lot of pressure on us. we couldn’t match it. (…) It’s a little bit upsetting right now, ending in fourth place after being in a medal position yesterday and walking away with nothing.”
Nestor teamed with Sebastien Lareau to win Canada’s only Olympic tennis medal, a gold in men’s doubles at the 2000 Sydney Games.
Also Friday, Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Humboldt, Sask., struggled to finish sixth after Day 1 of the heptathlon.
The two-time world silver medallist and No. 1-ranked heptathlete in the world this year got off to a rocky start when she finished sixth in the 100-metre hurdles, one of her strongest events.
She then cleared a season’s best 1.86 metres in the high jump to move up a spot, and remained in fifth place after the shot put. She ended Day 1 finishing ninth in the 200 metres with a time of 24.18 seconds. That dropped her from fifth to sixth.
Carling Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont., finished fourth in her women’s single sculls semi, just missing out on a spot in the final. She will race in Saturday’s consolation race.
Canada’s women’s eight will take part in Saturday’s final.
Also, Mandy Bujold of Kitchener, Ont., won by unanimous decision in her preliminary 51-kilogram bout against Yodgoroy Mirzaeva of Uzbekistan. It was Bujold’s first-ever Olympic fight.
The 29-year-old had hoped to compete at the London Games when women’s boxing made its Olympic debut in 2012.
Canada’s men’s field hockey team ended their winless streak in Rio, concluding Olympic pool play on Friday with a 2-2 tie against India.
Team captain Scott Tupper of Vancouver scored twice for Canada, while Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh had goals for India.
Miranda Ayim of London, Ont., scored eight points to lead Canada’s women in a 81-51 loss to the United States in basketball.