Tram­po­line star Cockburn re­tires at 36

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - LORI EWING

TORONTO — Karen Cockburn was soar­ing and spin­ning high above tram­po­lines in the sport’s lean years when money for train­ing and travel came out of her own pocket.

The 36-year-old had a dream of com­pet­ing in the Olympics be­fore tram­po­line was even added to the Games pro­gram.

Cockburn took a chance — fin­gers crossed — when she chose tram­po­line over div­ing. She went on to be­come one of the world’s most dec­o­rated Olympic tram­po­line ath­letes and paved a path for a young Rosie McLen­nan to fol­low.

Cockburn’s ca­reer was cel­e­brated dur­ing the na­tional cham­pi­onships on Sun­day in Oshawa, as she of­fi­cially an­nounced her re­tire­ment. She talked about her pride in be­ing the corner­stone of Canada’s team.

“I al­ways had this dream of go­ing to the Olympics, and I re­mem­ber my div­ing coach said ‘Well that’s not an Olympic sport, you shouldn’t quit div­ing to do that,’” Cockburn said. “My par­ents told me to choose one, and I was like ‘Well that’s what I’m pas­sion­ate about. Maybe it will get into the Olympics one day.’

“I just had this hope that it would.”

The sport made its Olympic de­but in 2000 in Syd­ney, where Cockburn won bronze, as did her hus­band Mathieu Tur­geon. The mid­dle name of their three-year-old daugh­ter, Em­i­lie, is Syd­ney. She went on to cap­ture sil­ver at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, was fourth in 2012 in Lon­don, and added eight world cham­pi­onship medals, 52 World Cup medals, and 14 se­nior na­tional ti­tles.

“To be the first woman to go to the Olympics was pretty spe­cial,” she said. “Hav­ing the spot­light shine on tram­po­line and be­ing able to in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion like Rosie, who is eight years younger than me. ... I’ve known her since she was seven or eight years old, so it’s a pretty spe­cial re­la­tion­ship.

“So to see her do so well has been amaz­ing and now she’s in­spir­ing peo­ple too.

“Karen put tram­po­line on the map for Canada and paved the way for our suc­cess,” McLen­nan said.

Karen Cockburn

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