Camplin gets flagbearer role for Games - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Camplin gets flagbearer role for Games

By Glenn Cullen 10/02/2006 06:09:54 AM Comments (0)

Four months ago she was long odds to even make the team, now Alisa Camplin will "represent all Australian athletes" by carrying the flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

The 31-year-old defending freestyle aerials gold medallist was awarded the honour, capping an unexpected return to the sport after radical knee surgery in October.

"I feel pretty chuffed," Camplin said.

"It's so special given how hard I've had to fight just to participate here.

"It is an absolute honour. I am really excited now. Four months ago when my knee blew out I felt the rug had been pulled out from under me.

"It made me realise you don't take it for granted - competing at the Olympics."

Camplin had the tendon of a donor cadaver grafted onto her knee in a bid to be ready for the Games and the left-of-field operation appears to have paid off.

After seventh and fourth placings at her two comeback World Cup events in the US last month there is now some expectation she may be able to compete for a medal here.

Team chef de mission Ian Chesterman paid tribute to Camplin who takes the honour in her second Games.

"Alisa Camplin holds a special place in Australia's history at the Winter Olympic Games by being the first female to win a gold medal," Chesterman said.

"She also embodies that great Australian spirit that allows her to overcome huge obstacles.

"Alisa is a true champion, both on and off the snow and is a great ambassador for our country."

The Australian Olympic Committee decision was effectively a fait accompli with the only other realistic option - Jacqui Cooper - electing to stay in the US to continue training.

Cooper, who was thought to be behind Camplin in the pecking order for flagbearer anyway, has previously embraced the pre Games lifestyle to the full but in terms of results it hasn't served her well.

In 1998 in Nagano she landed on her head in competition as a strong medal prospect and then in 2002 the outright favourite blew out her knee in training.

For her fourth and final Games tilt she has adopted a decidedly more laid back approach in the lead-up.

"She just wants to get away from the hype of it all," Chesterman said of Cooper.

"It's worked for other athletes - Zali Steggall (slalom bronze medallist) stayed away in '98 and Alisa didn't go to the opening ceremony in 2002 - she just thinks it's a good idea."

Chesterman said Cooper hadn't had much jumping in recent days with bad weather at Lake Placid but was hoping to squeeze in some more training before she arrives in Italy on Saturday.

Qualifying for the women's aerials begins on February 19 with the finals three days later.

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