Fracture takes Allen out of Games - The Vancouver Sun

Training camp trouble ends Olympic dream

Vicki Hall
Canwest News Service

BEIJING -- A few months from now, Amber Allen plans to put her MBA to work as a business consultant for start-up companies, possibly with the potential to change the world through environmental technology.

Her expertise should definitely come in handy -- especially for firms needing advice in how to turn crisis into opportunity.

The Canadian Soccer Association announced Monday that the 32-year-old forward must sit out of the Summer Olympics due to a nagging stress fracture in her left leg.

The news broke mere days before Canada's first game of the qualifying round against Argentina.

Fresh off the devastation, Allen bravely answered questions Monday afternoon about the heartbreak of coming so painfully close to her Olympic dream.

"I'm not frustrated, and I'm not angry," said Allen, who experienced troubles with her leg during a training camp in Singapore. "I'm not that kind of person.

"It just got to the point where the doctors decided I couldn't continue."

Coach Even Pellerud knew he was taking a chance in naming Allen to the team. After all, her medical chart is as thick as the Toronto phone book, especially when it comes to the lower extremities.

The Pitt Meadows native tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in 2003, forcing her to sit out of the FIFA Women's World Cup.

In 2007, she broke her left tibia, leaving her on the sidelines yet again for the World Cup.

But Pellerud still took a chance on Allen's leg holding out for the Olympics. He even singled her out when announcing the team last month.

"You sit on that as long as you can and let all the impressions go through," Pellerud said at the time.

"You let your gut feeling make the final decision.

"Her determination has helped her through all her struggles and made me convinced she's the one. I hope she can play at her best during the Games."

But it was not to be. So Allen, 32, will cheer on her former teammates with her fiance, who had already booked the trip to China.

Not one to sulk, Allen plans to make the most of unexpected twist in her personal journey.

"I will just stay with my fiance, tour around and see China and take in the Olympics in a bit of a different way," she said. "You know what? If six years ago I knew this would be the outcome, I wouldn't have done it any different.

"It's been fantastic. An amazing experience."

Allen's misfortune translates into a dream for Jodi-Ann Robinson. The Richmond native slides into the lineup in time for Wednesday's clash with Argentina.

The 19-year-old has scored six goals in 30 career games with the national team.

"I think Jodi-Ann is a fantastic player," Allen said. "I'm happy that she has the opportunity to get out there and potentially do something amazing for Canada."

With that, Allen paused before finishing her thought.

"She's a lucky girl."

© The Vancouver Sun 2008