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Disqualified Canadian sprinters take heart from bank’s donation of $40,000

Canada's Jared Connaughton, front, Justyn Warner, right, and Oluseyi Smith react to their times in the 4x100 metre finals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Saturday, August 11, 2012. The team finished third but was then disqualified.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The sting of being disqualified from the Olympic 4x100-metre relay will stay with the team, Jared Connaughton says, but it will serve as motivation.

And the donation of $40,000 to the quartet by Toronto-based merchant bank Forbes & Manhattan, Inc. will help the foursome get ready for next summer's world championship in Moscow.

"That sting will be there a long time … but we don't want to lose that edge," said Connaughton, whose lane violation cost himself and teammates Gavin Smellie, Justyn Warner and Seyi Smith third place behind Jamaica and the United States in the London Olympic final.

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"It was a great performance and we can do it again," Connaughton said. "We'll get another shot at it."

The team received the cheque from Forbes & Manhattan executive chairman and founder, mining engineer Stan Bharti, to commend them for the dedication, sacrifice and years of hard work that took them to the Olympics. The presentation was part of the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame gala dinner and induction ceremony.

The four sprinters also got a touching letter and bronze medal from 10-year-old Newfoundland fan Elijah Porter after their disqualification. They repaid the boy with a surprise visit.

"The donations are a gesture of their appreciation for our heartbreak," said Connaughton, who owned up to the error on the track but tucked his head down inside his hooded sweater in disappointment on his flight home. "It's an amazing thing. The generosity is phenomenal. I'm really grateful."

The response of Canadians has been restorative, he said. "To hear your name screamed out by a crowd of strangers is surreal," he said.

"It is so important that we support our athletes," Bharti said in a statement. "Our contribution to the Canadian men's Olympic relay team is an extension of my family's dedication and core belief in giving back and helping others in need."

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Sports reporter

James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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