Cockburn’s Olympic fire is still burning

Regina Leader-Post

Karen Cockburn hasn’t stopped to reflect on her storybook gymnastics career, mostly because the end hasn’t been written.

“You don’t really look back,” says one of the most decorated Olympians in Canadian history. “You’re always looking forward.”

Cockburn is preparing for what will likely be her final Olympic chapter at the 2012 Games in London.

Cockburn thought she was prepared to walk away in 2008 when – wearing a silver medal around her neck – she received the honour of carrying the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies in Beijing.

It was an exit befitting an athlete of her stature but, as it turned out, Cockburn’s Olympic fire wasn’t quite ready to be extinguished.

“I still enjoy the sport and I had goals,” explains Cockburn, a trampoline specialist who’s competing in her 19th Canadian gymnastics championships this week in Regina.

“I just love the magic of the Olympics. I was going to retire after Beijing. I was like, ‘OK three is enough,’ but then watching the Winter Olympians in Vancouver (in 2010), I just got so inspired. I was like, ‘OK, I’m coming back! I have to go to one more.’ ”

As added motivation, Cockburn will have an opportunity to become the first Canadian athlete to win a medal in four different Olympic Summer Games.

“It’s kind of cool that you’re a part of history,” she says.