Steve Russell Staff Photographer - @RussellPhotos
Whenever I speak to a visiting high school class and talk about my job, I always joke: "if I ever show up to photograph them, it's probably the best day of your life or the worst."
Today that little quip about my job was true for a pair of Canadian athletes on the biggest stage in the world.
One won the coveted gold, the other was the last athlete to cross the finish line.
One was coming off an injury and was just able to suffer through the race.
The other trains along side one of the biggest names in her sport and already has medals in three straight Olympics on her resume.
Triathlete Paula Findlay had won three races last year before injuring her hip. In 2010 she won in London and even though she was coming off an injury she was still considered a hopeful to medal.
Rosannagh MacLennan had won the Olympic warm-up event in the past year too, but was still in the shadow of the highly decorated Karen Cockburn.
Findlay, a world champion gave someone else the chance to win when she stumbled in the race. MacLennan's chance move from fourth to Gold was secured when the final jumper stumbled.
Paula Findlay's race started going downhill almost from the beginning. She fell behind on the swim and battled on the bike, never making up ground on a lead group that was almost four minutes ahead of her. She really suffered on the run. On her first of four running laps she entered the stadium distressed, stopped to talk to her coaching staff and then continued to grind out the remaining three laps.
The leaders lapped her and as she entered the stadium for her last lap she passed the jubilant medalists celebrating.
MacLennan who finished the qualifying in forth, increased the degree of victory in her final routine. The three jumpers who placed ahead of her had their shots at beating her score.
The first one couldn't, MacLennan was guaranteed a bronze, ditto for the second. MacLennan and Cockburn watched the final Chinese competitor, commenting to each other all the way through, MacLennan bracing herself for a silver until ... final jump ... she misses the landing. MacLennan was all but guaranteed Gold!
Here is where their stories merge.
MacLennan celebrated in front of a loud crowd made up of Canadians who were hungry for Canada's first Olympic Gold, Findlay entered the final stretch of the stadium to a loud crowd celebrating her courage and fortitude.
Coach Dave Ross, Rosannagh MacLennan and Karen Cockburn react to a fall by the final jumper, securing a gold medal for Rosannagh MacLennan.
Ryan Cochrane's Silver,
From the track,