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5 September 2008

Back from Beijing

Burnes and Abbott foiled by health, winds

By Amrit Ahluwalia

Original source: The Queen's Journal

Burnes and Abbott foiled by health, winds.
Burnes and Abbott foiled by health, winds.

Poor health and high winds stifled Queen’s Olympic hopefuls Katie Abbott, Artsci’09, and J.D. Burnes, Artsci’10. Both represented Canada as the only current Queen’s students at the Beijing Olympics in August. Burnes competed in the team and individual archery competitions, while Abbott was competing in the Yngling boat class of sailing.

Burnes was hospitalized with what doctors thought was appendicitis in the week leading up to the opening ceremonies and the archery competitions, but he was given the green light to compete just days before his events. With high hopes but a much weaker body, Burnes finished 63rd out of 64 archers in the individual competitions, but he helped the Canadian team to a quarterfinal berth. In the quarterfinals, the Italians edged out the Canadians by two points.

Some members of the Canadian archery community, including Burnes’ alternate Hugh MacDonald, have criticized him publically for competing while he wasn’t 100 per cent fit. Burnes said the decision was out of his hands.

“The decision for me to shoot wasn’t mine,” he said. “There’s a lot of factors that people aren’t looking at. If we were to implement a sub, by the time the alternate would have arrived I was out of hospital and the IOC probably wouldn’t have recognized it as a legitimate medical substitution. I went from bad to good almost overnight and the doctors said I was good to go. Also, if I was subbed out, I couldn’t be subbed back in and the team event wouldn’t have happened, leaving the other two guys out of luck.”

Burnes said his performance in the individual event was not as strong as he would have liked.

“In the team round I shot really well, I did what I went out to do, but in the individual event I died,” he said. “It would have been nice to win a match and finish top half, but I wasn’t dealt a good hand and had no expectations. … I wasn’t sure if I was mentally ready and it was just a bad day.”

Katie Abbott helped her crew finish 13th of the 15 Yngling teams after qualifying for the event in last place. The International Yngling Association describes the Yngling-class boats as “a cross between a dinghy and a keelboat.” They are 6.35 metres long and weigh 645 kilograms. Abbott said the team felt they had a chance to do better going in, but tough water conditions made it difficult for them.

“I felt I did really well,” she said. “We did the best we could and gave it everything we had given the conditions we were facing.”

Abbott said the team had big dreams, but they couldn’t live up to them.

“We were hoping that doing our best in every race would hopefully get us into medal contention but that didn’t happen,” she said. “It wasn’t our best regatta.”

Abbott said she’s interested in trying to make the Canadian squad for the London 2012 Olympics, but she’s focused on her education for the near future.

“I’m planning on competing, but I do have priorities and have to finish my school first.”

Alumnus Oskar Johansson, Artsci ’02, Sci ’02, posted one of the most surprising results of Canada’s Games, finishing fourth in the sailing event’s Tornado class, better than any Canadian has done before in that event. It was Johansson’s second Olympics. In 2004, he competed in the Athens Summer Games where he finished 15th.