Olympians hit highs and lows

NORTH Shore athletes hit massive highs and crushing lows over the long weekend at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

North Vancouver's Lauren Wilkinson got the party started early with her silver medal win with the women's eight rowing team on Thursday morning but things weren't quite so sweet for Lauren's older brother Michael Wilkinson. Two hours before Lauren won silver Michael was on the water finishing fifth in a semifinal with the men's four crew, considered to be a dark horse team for a medal. Michael and the Canadian team went on to finish third in Saturday's B final, good enough for ninth overall.

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On Sunday it was Zach Bell, a Yukon native who lives in North Vancouver, who was racing for gold in track cycling but came up short in the omnium. Bell, considered a strong medal threat, finished eighth after picking up a bad score in the points race, one of the event's six races. In his racing career this was only the second time Bell had failed to reach the top-3 in an omnium race.

That same day Coquitlam's Brittany Rogers, who trains at North Vancouver's Flicka Gymnastics, competed in the women's vault individual final and finished seventh.

West Vancouver windsurfers Nikola Girke and Zac Plavsic finished off the long-weekend action with RS-X medal races on Tuesday morning. Both reached the 10-person medal finals and both struggled in the final races. Plavsic sailed with a broken board through much of the final race and finished last, leaving him in eighth place for the competition. Girke also finished last in the medal race and ended up 10th overall for the competition. Also on the water, West Vancouver's Hunter Lowden, partnering with Gordon Cook, did not make the medal final in the men's 49er sailing competition.

The biggest heartbreak for the North Shore crew was North Vancouver's Tiffany Foster, whose horse was disqualified in the equestrian show jumping competition (see story page 5).

The final North Shore athlete to hit the Olympic stage will be 22-year-old North Vancouver runner Jessica Smith whose first heat in the women's 800 m was scheduled for Wednesday at 3: 35 a.m. PDT. If she advances the semifinals will go Thursday at 11: 30 a.m. with the finals scheduled for Saturday at noon.

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