WINDSOR, ENGLAND - It may have been a shiny "Triple Medal Tuesday" for Canada at the Summer Olympics but it was a dreary day for a couple of McGill University graduates at the Eton Dorney rowing basin.
Doug Vandor, a 37-year-old native of Dewittville, Que., who had high hopes for a medal with Queen's grad Morgan Jarvis in the Canadian men's lightweight double sculls, had them dashed after a fourth-place finish in a repechage heat.
Elsewhere, in beach volleyball, McGill grad Marie-Andrée Lessard of LaSalle, Que.,and teammate Annie Martin were defeated 21-18, 28-30, 15-13 by Russia in their second preliminary round match, falling to 0-2.
"It sucks but life goes on," said a disappointed Vandor to the assembled media. "It's still so fresh right now... You win some, you lose some. Sometimes you lose more. We came in here with big expectations, thinking we had a legitimate shot at the podium . . . So when you cross that line, you just feel dejected."
Vandor and Jarvis hit the halfway point of the 2,000-metre race in first place and appeared well-positioned for the required top-two finish. They slipped to second by the 1,500m mark and faded to fourth over the final 500m, finishing the six-team heat in six minutes, 36.03 seconds. Greece (6:31.13) and Hungary (6:32.31) advanced to the semifinals and are still alive in the medal hunt.
The third-place British crew, along with Canada, fifth-place Uruguay and sixth-place Egypt were relegated to a consolation semifinal round. The best possible finish for the Canadian crew would be 13th overall. In the second heat, Cuba and Japan advanced to the semis, while China, Hong Kong, Argentina and India were designated to the consolation round.
"This is our job. This is what we do for a living. We train five, six hours a day. And then that happens, and it's all gone," added Vandor, who got his start in the sport with the McGill novice crew while earning a science degree in 1998. He followed that with a master's degree in experimental surgery at McGill and began his Olympic dream as a spare for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. Vandor also qualified for Beijing Games in 2008 but his experience there also ended in disappointment after suffering a severe case of stomach flu.
Five of Canada's seven crews still have medal hopes, including 29-year-old Montrealer Derek O'Farrell, another former McGill rower. The 2007 science grad qualified for the men's four semifinals, scheduled for Thursday at 5:10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The medal round is slated for Saturday at 5:30 a.m.
Upcoming events for the four other McGillians at the Games are as follows:
- in women's beach volleyball, Marie-Andrée Lessard of LaSalle, Que., teams up with pairs partner Annie Martin, when they play Italy in their third preliminary round contest on Friday at 7 a.m.
- Victoria Poon, a former McGill swimmer who also hails from LaSalle, is scheduled for the women's the 50m freestyle on Aug. 3 at 5 a.m.
- wrestler Martine Dugrenier, a native of Laval, Que., and the fifth McGill grad competing at the Games, is scheduled for her inaugural bout in the women's 63 kg weight class on Aug. 8 at 1 p.m.
- synchronized swimmer Jo-Annie Fortin, a Montreal native who will enter McGill as a psychology freshman in September, begins her competition on Aug. 9 (10 a.m.).
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