You could have cashed in if you had bet someone before the Olympics that Canada's only track and field medal would come from a small-town guy with a five-letter name which starts with D. Only it came from Derek Drouin instead of Dylan Armstrong.
C'est la vie with the every-two-years guesstimating game of the media picking and choosing whom to play up as medal favourites. Derek Drouin seemed to have almost no hype before London 2012. Did you know the pride of Corunna, Ont., won won at a Diamond League meet two weeks before London 2012? I sure as hell did? Meantime, Armstrong's mug was all over newspapers, TV and the web before London by virtue of his silver medal at the IAAF world championship last summer; when he finished fifth, everyone was reminded that he's due to have a bone chip removed in his throwing elbow and wasn't able to hit his personal best.
Among the pleasant surprises and aw-hamburgers disappointments, Drouin leads the pack. Perhaps you had to be there, but there was moment of pure hoser gothic on Tuesday when he did a studio interview with CTV's Brian Williams. The veteran broadcaster told Drouin (paraphrasing), "You are what the Olympics are all about. You just came, you did your best and you won a medal." Drouin, not an emotive type, chuckled nervously as he said a thank-you. It was like he felt a little embarrassed to have someone make his high jump feat accessible. Truly, he just did it.
Winning Canada's first men's high jump medal in 36 years — and third in history — makes Drouin the country's surprise sensation.
[Photos: Canada's Damian Warner in the decathlon]
London 2012 is drawing to a close, with only four days to go. There is still hope for that one more validating Canuck gold medal , with Catharine Pendrel up in women's mountain bike on Saturday. It's probably been an slightly above-average Summer Olympics for Canada. Sports Illustrated pegged the country to win 17 medals. Seven of those medal picks came through, six did not and four are still pending. Pendrel, divers Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, taekwando's Karine Sergerie and two-time wrestling medalist Tonya Verbeek are legitimate contenders. Plus there is a soccer game today.
Rosie MacLennan, gold, women's trampoline (over teammate Karen Cockburn) — From volunteer at Vancouver 2010 to victor and vanquisher of China's He Wenna at London 2012. That is storybook. MacLennan gave the country a huge shot in the arm with her trampoline tour de force last Saturday on Canada's most successful day of these Games.
Does teammate Karen Cockburn finishing fourth in her final Games and missing a chance to match Émilie Heymans' feat of medalling in four consecutive Olympiads qualify as a downer? As hard as that was to take, the big picture is Canada had formidable competition from China. Coach Dave Ross also noted the judges have a jones for athletes who get more air time, so it's not a stunner that MacLennan, who at 23 is eight years Cockburn's junior, was the one to win.
[Photos: The world's fastest man and woman]
Antoine Valois-Fortier, bronze, men's judo — Since Nicolas Gill's first-round loss in Athens eight years ago, Canada's judo team hasn't had much time in the spotlight. But Valois-Fortier, one the youngest combatants in his weight class and ranked 17th in the world, came more or less out of nowhere to medal. Chalk his off-the-radarness up to youth and perhaps the English Canada not being as aware of the Quebec City native.
Tara Whitten, fourth, women's omnium —
Only coming away with a team-pursuit bronze medal made the Olympics a disappointment for the 32-year-old two-times world champion. The post-mortem was that, as a latecomer to cycling, Whitten doesn't have the savvy career riders do with peddling in tight quarters. A bad result in the first day of the omnium dropped her back to eighth place and she could not make up enough points to land on the podium. She had the same placing at the worlds, so one could have seen it coming.
Armstrong, fifth, men's shot put — He was projected to medal after doing so at the worlds. But shot put is a cruel mistress — "You can be in the best shape of your life, but if you don't snap one off your finger correctly, they can go a metre less" is how Armstrong put it to Cam Cole. In the big man's defence, his showing was in line with his recent performances. He has also given the Canadian program credibility, with two top-5 Olympic finishes. The public is conditioned to want a medal; why else did CTV talk about Armstrong trying to "redeem" himself for missing a medal by one centimetre in 2008? It's not a fail to come that close.
Martine Dugrenier, fifth, women's wrestling — That's two Olympics in a row that the McGill Martlets alumna has come one win shy of medalling. Canada, with its strong women's team, was hopeful of going 3-for-4 on the mat. Two medals is looking more likely after Carol Huynh's bronze, with Tonya Verbeek up on Thursday.
[Photos: Canadian medal winners]
Dugrenier had to cut weight to wrestle at 63 kg since her regular 67-kg weight class, where she's a past world champion, isn't included in the Olympics. She has also had injuries relatively close to the Games. Throw in the fact that FILA, the world body for amateur wrestling, refuses to seed Olympic events and you get an idea of how she was facing a stacked deck. She ended up drawing eventual gold medallist Kaori Icho in the first round, then only got to go in the repechage for a bronze after Icho won. It's maddening that's how the sport is set up and it's maddening for Canadians on her behalf that it didn't come together for her in a second successive Olympics.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.More London Olympics coverage on Yahoo! Sports Canada:
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