Trampoline star Cockburn retires at 36
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.