Monday, July 10, 2017

Canada 150: Olympic Memories

Saluting 150+ Olympians for Canada's 150th Anniversary. The final 150 post is dedicated to the Olympians who have won a medal on home soil.

109 individual athletes have won medals with eight of those athletes winning more than one medal.

68 athletes won the 26 gold medals in Vancouver and heard O Canada at a home Olympics. I was lucky enough to be in the crowd when we won our first one.

It's easy to compare the 5 medals at the 1988 Olympics to the 26 medals in 2010 and think that our Olympians are that much better but in a previous blog post, I compared the 1988 Olympics with the 2014 Olympics results. What I found is that the Olympics have changed, not necessarily our performance.

If the 2014 Olympics only had the 1988 sports, Canada would have won 5 medals - 3 silver and 2 bronze. At least at the 2010 Olympics, we would have had two gold medals on home soil. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in figure skating and Christina Nesbitt in speed skating would have heard our national anthem on home soil. In total, the 2010 team would have won seven medals in the 1988 sports. You can read my full blog post here.

So here's to the Canadian Olympians who reached the podium at home.

1976 Montreal Olympics: 11 medals


  • Greg Joy - Athletics, High Jump
  • John Wood - Canoeing, C-1 500m
  • Michel Vaillancourt - Equestrian, Individual Jumping Grand Prix
  • Cheryl Gibson - Swimming, 400m Individual Medley
  • Stephen Pickell, Graham Smith, Clay Evans, Gary MacDonald - Swimming, 4x100m Medley Relay


  • Nancy Garapick - Swimming, 100m Backstroke
  • Nancy Garapick - Swimming, 200m Backstroke
  • Shannon Smith - Swimming, 400m Freestyle
  • Becky Smith - Swimming, 400m Individual Medley
  • Gail Amundrud, Barbara Clark, Becky Smith, Anne Jardin - Swimming, 4x100m Freestyle Relay
  • Wendy Cook, Robin Corsiglia, Susan (Smith) Kelsey, Anne Jardin - Women's 4x100m Medley Relay

1988 Calgary Olympics: 5 medals


  • Brian Orser - Figure Skating
  • Elizabeth Manley - Figure Skating


  • Karen Percy - Alpine Skiing, Downhill
  • Karen Percy - Alpine Skiing, Super-G
  • Tracy Wilson, Robert McCall - Figure Skating, Ice Dancing

2010 Vancouver Olympics: 26 medals


Alexandre Bilodeau - Freestyle Skiing, Moguls
Maëlle Ricker - Snowboard Cross
Christine Nesbitt - Speed Skating, 1000m
Jon Montgomery - Skeleton
Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue - Figure Skating, Ice Dancing
Ashleigh McIvor - Freestyle Skiing, Ski Cross
Kaillie Humphries, Heather Moyse - Bobsleigh
Ice Hockey - Women (21 players)
Charles Hamelin - Short Track, 500m
Guillaume Bastille, Charles Hamelin, François Hamelin, Olivier Jean, François-Louis Tremblay - Short Track, 5000m relay
Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky, Denny Morrison - Speed Skating, Team Pursuit
Jasey-Jay Anderson - Snowboarding, Parallel Giant Slalom
Adam Enright, Ben Hebert, Marc Kennedy, Kevin Martin, John Morris - Curling
Ice Hockey - Men (23 players)


Jennifer Heil - Freestyle Skiing, Moguls
Mike Robertson - Snowboard Cross
Marianne St-Gelais - Short Track, 500m
Kristina Groves - Speed Skating, 1500m
Jessica Gregg, Kalyna Roberge, Marianne St-Gelais, Tania Vicent - Short Track, 3000m relay
Shelley-Ann Brown, Helen Upperton - Bobsleigh
Cori Bartel, Cheryl Bernard, Carolyn Darbyshire, Kristie Moore, Susan O'Connor - Curling


Kristina Groves - Speed Skating, 3000m
Clara Hughes - Speed Skating, 5000m
Joannie Rochette - Figure Skating
François-Louis Tremblay - Short Track, 500m
David Bissett, Lascelles Brown, Chris Le Bihan, Lyndon Rush - Bobsleigh

Thursday, June 1, 2017

1 month to Canada 150: Olympic Memories

Counting 150 outstanding Olympic athletes for Canada's 150th birthday, the following Opening Ceremony flag bearers are athletes #9-#55. Click here to see the blog post with #1-8.

We've had 25 summer and 22 winter Opening Ceremony flag bearers.

There have been 10 who competed in athletics, including our first four flag bearers and 7 who competed in hockey, including our first five flag bearers. Looking at the Olympics since the 1976 Games, athletics and canoe/kayak have yielded three flag bearers each. The winter Olympics have had three speed skating flag bearers (plus one short track speed skating).

Thirteen flag bearers won a medal in more than one Olympics.

Twenty three won a medal at the Games where they were the flag bearer; fourteen of which were gold medals.

Thirteen of the forty seven flag bearers were women. The first Canadian female flag bearer was Nancy Green in 1968. Since then, half the flag bearers have been female.

Summer Olympic Games

2016 - Rosie MacLeannan - Trampoline
2012 - Simon Whitfield - Triathlon
2008 - Adam van Koeverden - Kayak
2004 - Nicolas Gill - Judo
2000 - Caroline Brunet - Kayak
1996 - Charmain Crooks - Athletics
1992 - Mike Smith - Athletics
1988 - Carolyn Waldo - Synchronized Swimming
1984 - Alex Baumann - Swimming
1980 -  Sue Halloway - Canoe
1976 - Abby Hoffman - Athletics
1972 - Douglas Rogers - Judo
1968 - Roger Jackson - Rowing
1964 - Gil Boa - Shooting
1960 - Carl Schwende - Fencing
1956 - Bob Steckle - Wrestling
1952 - Bill Parnell - Athletics
1948 - Bob McFarlane - Athletics
1944 - none - cancelled due to World War II
1940 - none - cancelled due to World War II
1936 - Jim Worrall - Athletics
1932 - George Maughan - Boxing
1928 - Joseph Wright Jr. - Rowing
1924 - Hec Phillips - Athletics
1920 - Archie McDiarmid - Athletics
1916 - none - cancelled due to World War I
1912 - Duncan Gillis - Athletics
1908 - Ed Archibald - Athletics

Winter Olympic Games

2014 - Hayley Wickenheiser - Hockey
2010 - Clara Hughes - Speed Skating
2006 - Danielle Goyette - Hockey
2002 - Catriona Le May Doan - Speed Skating
1998 - Jean-Luc Brassard - Moguls
1994 - Kurt Browning - Figure Skating
1992 - Sylvie Daigle - Short Track Speed Skating
1988 - Brian Orser - Figure Skating
1984 - Gaétan Boucher - Speed Skating
1980 - Ken Read - Alpine Skiing
1976 - Dave Irwin - Alpine Skiing
1972 - Karen Magnussen - Figure Skating
1968 - Nancy Greene - Alpine Skiing
1964 - Ralf Olin - Speed Skating
1960 - Robert Paul - Figure Skating
1956 - Norris Bowden - Figure Skating
1952 - Gordon Audley - Speed Skating
1948 - Hubert Brooks - Hockey
1944 - none - cancelled due to World War II
1940 - none - cancelled due to World War II
1936 - Walter Kitchen - Hockey
1932 - Hack Simpson - Hockey
1928 - John Porter - Hockey
1924 - Ernie Collett - Hockey

Flag Bearer Medals Won 

Summer Olympic Games

2016 - Rosie MacLeannan - Trampoline
         - Gold (2016, 2012)
2012 - Simon Whitfield - Triathlon
         - Gold (2000); Silver (2008)
2008 - Adam van Koeverden - Kayak
         - Gold (2004); Silver (2012, 2008); Bronze (2004)
2004 - Nicolas Gill - Judo
         - Silver (2000); Bronze (1992)
2000 - Caroline Brunet - Kayak
         - Silver (2000, 1996); Bronze (2004)
1996 - Charmain Crooks - Athletics
         - Silver (1984)
1992 - Mike Smith - Athletics
1988 - Carolyn Waldo - Synchronized Swimming
         - Gold (2x1988); Silver (1984)
1984 - Alex Baumann - Swimming
         - Gold (2x1984)
1980 -  Sue Halloway - Canoe
            (chosen but did not participate due to Canada's boycott of the Games)
         - Silver (1984); Bronze (1984)
1976 - Abby Hoffman - Athletics
1972 - Douglas Rogers - Judo
         - Silver (1964)
1968 - Roger Jackson - Rowing
         - Gold (1964)
1964 - Gil Boa - Shooting
         - Bronze (1956)
1960 - Carl Schwende - Fencing
1956 - Bob Steckle - Wrestling
1952 - Bill Parnell - Athletics
1948 - Bob McFarlane - Athletics
1944 - none - cancelled due to World War II
1940 - none - cancelled due to World War II
1936 - Jim Worrall - Athletics
1932 - George Maughan - Boxing
1928 - Joseph Wright Jr. - Rowing
         - Silver (1928)
1924 - Hec Phillips - Athletics
1920 - Archie McDiarmid - Athletics
1916 - none - cancelled due to World War I
1912 - Duncan Gillis - Athletics
         - Silver (1912)
1908 - Ed Archibald - Athletics
         - Bronze (1908)

Winter Olympic Games

2014 - Hayley Wickenheiser - Hockey
         - Gold (2014, 2010, 2006, 2002); Silver 1998
2010 - Clara Hughes - Speed Skating
         - Gold (2006); Silver (2006); Bronze (2010, 2002)
         - plus 2 summer Bronze (1996)
2006 - Danielle Goyette - Hockey
         - Gold (2006, 2002); Silver 1998
2002 - Catriona Le May Doan - Speed Skating
         - Gold (2002, 1998); Bronze (1998)
1998 - Jean-Luc Brassard - Moguls
         - Gold (1994)
1994 - Kurt Browning - Figure Skating
1992 - Sylvie Daigle - Short Track Speed Skating
         - Gold (1992); Silver (1994)
1988 - Brian Orser - Figure Skating
         - Silver (1988; 1984)
1984 - Gaétan Boucher - Speed Skating
         - Gold (2x1984); Silver 1980; Bronze (1984)
1980 - Ken Read - Alpine Skiing
1976 - Dave Irwin - Alpine Skiing
1972 - Karen Magnussen - Figure Skating
         - Silver (1972)
1968 - Nancy Greene - Alpine Skiing
         - Gold (1968); Silver (1968)
1964 - Ralf Olin - Speed Skating
1960 - Robert Paul - Figure Skating
         - Gold (1960)
1956 - Norris Bowden - Figure Skating
         - Silver (1956)
1952 - Gordon Audley - Speed Skating
         - Bronze (1952)
1948 - Hubert Brooks - Hockey
         - Gold (1948)
1944 - none - cancelled due to World War II
1940 - none - cancelled due to World War II
1936 - Walter Kitchen - Hockey
         - Silver (1936)
1932 - Hack Simpson - Hockey
         - Gold (1932)
1928 - John Porter - Hockey
         - Gold (1928)
1924 - Ernie Collett - Hockey
         - Gold (1924)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Grand Slam of Curling in Toronto

Ryerson University's Mattamy Athletic Centre located in the old Maple Leaf Gardens is hosting the Players Championships this week.

The draw schedule is here.
To buy tickets, click here.
The tv schedule is here.

It's a great compact venue where you can watch up to five matches at a time. It can be difficult to keep up with that many so focusing on one or two will give more enjoyment for those wanting to follow the strategy.

With the draw schedule released before the tournament starts, it's easy to choose the best viewing area for the match that is most interesting to you.

Although the compactness of the venue is great for the fans to be closer to the action and view the matches, there is not much room for the athletes between

The East grandstands provide the best view for Sheet B and C. It is closest to Sheet A giving the best view of the players, but the house is partially obstructed so rocks closest to the stands are not visible, especially if seated closer to the rink. There is glass around the stairs areas that also disrupts the view from the lower rows. The best seats are in the middle of rows away from the stairs.

If you want to view as much as possible, the higher rows are best. If you want to be as close as possible to the action and don't mind missing some of the action, lower rows are best.

This is the view from section E4, Row B Seat 8. As you can see Sheet A is half obstructed, but it's still a great seat to hear the strategy and see the athletes close-up.

Photos shared are taken with my iPhone. The shots I got last year with my camera are much better. There are great shots to be had when you're this close to the action.

This is the view from the top (standing above the top row of seats). Behind the scoreboards (on the left) is the Pinty's zone where fans can eat wings and drink while watching the games - although understand that you'll probably be on television when you take that big bite ;-)

During the week is a great time to get autographs as many players paused before leaving the rink. Most fans got autographs at the north end of Sheet A as or centre ice as you can see from this photo. Players can also be seen arriving and leaving the venue or talking in the hallways. Most are very accommodating to talk to fans.

If you remember Maple Leaf Gardens, make sure to look up at the rafters where pennants used to hang.

If you're interested in seeing how they transform the venue into a curling venue, check out this video.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

150 days to Canada 150: Olympic Memories #1-8

With 150 days until Canada Day when our country will celebrate its 150th anniversary, I thought it was a good time to look back on Canadian Olympic memories.

Although Canada is very successful in some sports, I'll focus this post on athletes who have won the only gold medal for their sport.

Click on the athletes' names to be directed to their websites.

1. Sylvie Bernier - Diving 1984

Canada has had many incredible divers and two World Champions in the 3m and 10m Olympic events: Alexandre Despatie (2003 - 10m; 2005 - 3m) and Émilie Heymans (2003).

At the Olympics though, only Sylvie Bernier has had the honour of standing at the top of the podium.

Bernier served as Assistant Chef de Mission for the Canadian Olympic Team at the 2006 Winter Olympics and 2008 Summer Olympics and Chef de Mission for the 2012 London Olympics.

To see the full competition, click here.

2. Lori Fung -  Rhythmic gymnastics 1984

Rhythmic gymnastics was added as an Olympic sport at the 1984 Olympic Games with Lori Fung winning the only gold medal awarded for the individual all-around. This is also the only medal Canada has won in the sport. Fung was a seven time Canadian champion and continued her career in gymnastics as a coach and director.

 3. Simon Whitfield - Triathlon 2000

Triathlon made its Olympic debut in Sydney at the 2000 Games. Simon Whitfield was the winner of the first men's race that you can re-watch by clicking here.

The following are highlights from the run. Whitfield would follow up this gold medal eight years later by winning silver in Beijing. These two medals are Canada's only medals in the triathlon.

Whitfield was the Canadian Opening Ceremony flag bearer for the 2012 London Olympics. He is now an ambassador and mentor for CIBC Team Next.

4. Sébastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor - Tennis Men's Doubles 2000

Canada won its only tennis medal in Sydney at the 2000 Summer Olympics when they beat the Australian home favourites Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge in the final.

Lareau was the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam title by winning the US Open in 1999, but it is Daniel Nestor who has had the longevity and record-breaking success for Canada.

Nestor has achieved the Golden Slam by winning the Olympics as well as all four of the Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open). In total he has won eight doubles Grand Slam titles and 91 career titles. This past month, at age 44 Nestor and his 38 year old doubles partner, Radek Štěpánek became the oldest team to reach a Grand Slam men's doubles final at the Australian Open.

5. Kyle Shewfelt - Artistic Gymnastics 2004

The only medal won in artistic gymnastics was the gold medal won by Kyle Shewfelt on the floor exercise at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

At the 2008 Olympics, he completed a new vault which was named the Shewfelt vault. He is a guest commentator for CBC Television's Olympic coverage and a mentor for CIBC Team Next.

6. Lori-Ann Muenzer - Track Cycling 2004

Lori-Ann Muenzer was 38 years old and the oldest cyclist in the sprint at the Olympic Games. In the final, she faced a 21 year old while racing with wheels that were borrowed from the French and Australian teams. Being a self-funded athlete, she only had one set that were wrecked in training mishaps.

Click here to watch a video on Lori-Ann's website that includes her gold medal winning race and medal ceremony.

Muenzer is still very involved in the cycling community introducing children to competitive cycling and teaching spin classes.

Click here to read a Toronto Star article about her induction into Canada Sports Hall of Fame.

7. George Lyon - Golf 1904

There were 77 athletes who competed in the 1904 Olympics. Three were from Canada and 74 were from the U.S. Lyon was the reigning Olympic champion for over 100 years with golf not being contested at the Games until 2016.

An interesting story about Lyon, golf and the Olympics was published in Golf Digest. You can read it here. There were plans for golf to be in the 2008 Olympics in Great Britain. George Lyon arrived to defend his Olympic title only to find out that the competition was cancelled.

8. *Unofficial* Christine Girard - Weightlifting 2012

It's not official but with sample re-testing resulting in positive drug tests for the gold and silver medallists, it looks like Christine Girard's bronze medal at the 2012 Games will be upgraded to gold.

In 2012, I included Girard as one of the athlete reactions that stuck in my mind. I a blog post I wrote:

"Christine Girard coming off the stage after missing her last lift thinking she was not on the podium to reading her lips say "J'ai une médaille?" and her reaction afterwards. (translated as "I have a medal?" I am going by memory of what she said since I can't find a video of that moment)"
To read the Globe and Mail article celebrating her historic bronze medal, click here.

Girard continued her weightlifting career by co-founding the Kilophile Weightlifting Club in Surrey, BC with her husband.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cross Country Skiing World Cup Finals in Quebec City

It was recently announced that Quebec City will host the Cross-Country Skiing World Cup Finals March 17-19th 2017. Click here to read Cross-Country Ski Canada's announcement.

I visited Quebec City in March 2014 and it was incredible. With this event on the second weekend of March Break, it's a great time to visit this charming city and see the world's best cross-country skiers compete on the Plains of Abraham in the final competition of the season.

Alex Harvey and Len Valjas just won a World Cup sprint race. Click here to read CBC's article about their win.
"With double the points up for grabs, hosting the World Cup Finals will bring huge advantage for hometown boy, Alex Harvey, and his Canadian teammates’ quest to charge up the overall standings.
“You always have a small advantage when racing at home so it is really exciting that we will be coming back to Quebec City for the Finals,” said Harvey, who sits fourth in the overall standings with a gold and bronze under his belt in 2017."
[Source: Cross-Country Ski Canada]

When I first heard, I was so tempted to go that I looked at flight and hotel prices. Flights from Toronto were just over $300 while great hotels were $120-$150 per night with the legendary Chateau Frontenac $250 per night.

Although not cheap, the prices were still a lot more reasonable than I imagined. I wonder if prices will go up now that the announcement is made and hotels start filling up. I return from Mexico on March 16th so I can't commit to going yet but I wish I could.

There is so much history and beauty in Quebec City which makes this event even more enticing.

The Plains of Abraham may not be as calm as when I last visited. The cross-country trails were quiet and beautifully groomed. There was so much snow, the park benches were buried. I can just imagine the excitement of a World Cup event.

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

There are many sights to see in the city and surrounding area.

Quebec City's oldest stairs (Breakneck stairs/Escalier Casse-Cou) built in 1635 are worth climbing.

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

The Chateau Frontenac is visible from many different angles. From the quaint Quartier Petit Champlain, you can take the Escalier Casse-Cou or the Funicular (visible in this photo) up to the Chateau Frontenac.

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

One of my favourite places was the pub L'Oncle Antoine. It's located in the stone cellar of Maison Marie-Anne Barbel dated 1754. We went for an afternoon drink since kids were not allowed in for lunch. Even if I wasn't exactly hungry, I couldn't resist trying the French Onion Soup which was amazing.

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

I decided to post the following photo thinking that perhaps I didn't want our favourite photo of the two of us possibly being used by others. I have seen some of our photos shared on websites without permission or credit given.

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

I then searched on google maps to find the name of the pub and this is what popped up.

It took me a second to realize that this was not my personal search page, but the actual google maps page that included that photo of the two of us. I guess I didn't need to worry since that photo is already out there.

Although watching the world's best cross-country skiers is amazing, extending the holiday to include winter activities like ice skating, cross-country skiing or downhill skiing would make the holiday complete. March is also the ideal time to visit a sugar shack. 

Visiting or staying overnight at Hôtel de Glace would be a unusual experience and it is only a 40 minute drive from Québec City. You can read more about our day visit to Hôtel de Glace here.

Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell

The Chutes Montmorency are incredible in the winter in their frozen wonder. They are twice the height of Niagara Falls and can be enjoyed from many viewpoints.

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

Thursday, August 4, 2016

16 Reasons to watch 2016 Olympics

Leading up to the 2012 Olympics, I shared an article from CTV Olympics that I wished I had written. It was "12 Reasons to Watch the 2012 Olympics".

This time around, I have had fun compiling my own list of 16 reasons to watch the 2016 Olympics. Thanks to CTV for the inspiration.

16. Swimmer Penny Oeksiak (16 years old) and the swim team

The 16 year old may surprise in Rio after breaking the Canadian record in the 100-metre fly which was at the time the 5th fastest time in the world this year. She is also competing in the 100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay and 4x200m freestyle relay.

Two London Olympic medallists are back aiming for the podium in Rio - Ryan Cochrane in the 400m and 1500m freestyle and Richard Weinberger in the 10k open water marathon. Ryan Cochrane competes on Day 1 and may win Canada's first medal in the 400m.

Another exciting swimmer is 21 year old Santo Condorelli who made his international debut in 2015 and won 4 medals at the Toronto Pan Am Games.

The swim team has a special place in my heart as they were the team I was responsible for during the 2012 Olympic parade in Toronto. Front and center in the photo is returning Olympic medallist Richard Weinberger showing off his bronze medal.

Also really hoping for a great performance by Brittany MacLean who competed in 2012 with her sister Heather. This year she's competing in 4 events and swimming better than ever with a national record at the Olympic trials.

My daughter was thrilled to have her photo taken with her at the send-off party for the 2012 team. We had seen the sisters qualify for the Olympic team when the Olympic trials were televised that year.

15. Frederic Winters (Jersey #15)

Men's Volleyball captain and #15 Frederic Winters leads the team to Canada's first Olympic Games in 24 years.

My sister who was travelling last week was very excited (for me) when she saw Team Canada athletes at the airport. She didn't know who they were, but took photos for me. Even with the first one being blurry, I instantly recognized our volleyball team. Apologies to the team if it was too early in the morning to hear "Go Canada Go" but she was very excited.

14. Athletes from 14 of the 18 medals we won in 2012 are back in Rio.

  1. Rosie MacLennan - trampoline gold
  2. Men's Eight Rowing (Will Crothers, Conlin McCabe, Rob Gibson)
  3. Women's Eight Rowing (Lesley Thompson, Lauren Wilkinson)
  4. Ryan Cochrane - swimming
  5. Jennifer Abel - diving synchro
  6. Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion - diving synchro
  7. Antoine Valois-Fortier - judo
  8. Tara Whitten and Jasmin Glaesser - cycling team pursuit
  9. Derek Drouin - high jump
  10. Mark de Jonge - canoe kayak sprint
  11. Mark Oldershaw - canoe kayak sprint
  12. Adam van Koeverden - canoe kayak sprint
  13. Richard Weinburger - swimming 10K marathon
  14. Women's soccer - Alysha Chapman, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott, Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi, Rhian Wilkinson

13. Children of Olympians
  1. Ashton Baumann (Swimming, father Alex)
  2. Émilie Fournel (Canoe/Kayak Sprint, father Jean) 
  3. Hugues Fournel (Canoe/Kayak Sprint, father Jean) 
  4. Kennedy Goss (Swimming, father Sandy)
  5. Nick Hoag (Volleyball, father Glenn)
  6. Lynda Kiejko (Shooting, father Bill Hare)
  7. Kai Langerfeld (Rowing, father York)
  8. Amy Millar (Equestrian, father Ian)
  9. Mark Oldershaw (Canoe/Kayak Sprint, father Scott)
  10. Sergio Pessoa (Judo, father Sergio)
  11. Micha Powell (Athletics, mother Rosey Edeh, father Mike Powell)
  12. Ben Saxton (Beach Volleyball, father Don)
  13. Dori Yeats (Wrestling, father Doug)

12. Christine Sinclair Jersey #12 
In 2012, #12 Christine Sinclair led Canada's women's soccer team to bronze. They're ready to compete for a medal in Rio and already won their first game upsetting #5 ranked Australia two days before the Opening Ceremony. They play again on Saturday.

11. Number of Canoe Kayak sprint and slalom Canadians

In 2012, three sprint athletes won medals. Will they repeat? Look out for Mark de Jonge (K1-200m), Adam van Koeverden (K1-1000m) and Mark Oldershaw (C1-1000m).

I'm also particularly excited that Hugues Fournel who I first met during the 2012 Olympic Heroes Tour was added to the team this week with fellow 2012 Olympian Ryan Cochrane (yes there are two Ryan Cochrane's on Team Canada once again). I was responsible for taking athletes to schools for inspirational talks and enjoyed listening to Hugues' story about being the son of an Olympic athlete (1976) to being the brother of an Olympic athlete (2008, 2012) and finally becoming an Olympian himself in 2012.

With kayaker Hugues Fournel and para-judo athlete Justin Karn

10. Number of events in the decathlon and 10 Medal hopefuls in Athletics

I am not saying that Canada will get 10 medals, but there are at least 10 Athletics athletes who have the potential to end up on the podium.

  1. Damian Warner (decathlon)
  2. Brianne Thiesen-Eaton (heptathlon)
  3. Derek Drouin (high jump)
  4. Shawn Barber (pole vault)
  5. Andre DeGrasse (100m, 200m, 4x100 relay)
  6. Melissa Bishop (800m)
  7. Christabel Nettey (long jump)
  8. Ben Thorne (race walk)
  9. Mohammed Ahmed (5000m and 10000m)
  10. Brendon Rodney (200m)

10. Ten athletes on #TeamRefugees

Taking a small break from my typical Canada-focus article to add an extra #10.

More importantly than Team Canada and potential medallists are inspiring stories like the refugees who will be competing in Rio under the Olympic flag.

Click here for Rio 2016 article about the athletes' arrival in Rio.

One of the refugees is Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini who helped save 20 refugees when the motor on their dinghy stopped while fleeing on the Mediterrean Sea. Click here to read more of her story.

NBC has a great website dedicated to Team Refugees including their stories. Click here.

9. Number of Cycling events in Rio
  1. BMX
  2. Mountain
  3. Road Race
  4. Time Trial
  5. Keirin
  6. Omnium
  7. Sprint
  8. Team Pursuit
  9. Team Sprint
Potential Canadian medallists include
  • BMX (Tory Nyhaug)
  • Women's team pursuit (Allison Beveridge, Laura Brown, Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay, Georgia Simmerling)
  • Mountain biking (Catharine Pendrel and Emily Batty).

8. Rowing's 8 and 8th Olympics for coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie

Unfortunately Rowing Canada didn't enter a Rowing 8 team in the Olympic qualifying process for our men's team choosing to focus on teams of 4, but our women's team will be aiming for the podium led by 8 time Olympian Lesley Thompson-Willie. This ties for the most Olympics by a female athlete.

Click here to read the CBC article "Canada heading to Rio Olympics minus storied men's 8 crew".

7. Rugby Sevens

2016 will be Rugby Sevens' first Olympics and is a high paced exciting sport. Canada's men's team sadly didn't qualify for Rio, but a few sources are predicting a medal for Canada's women's Rugby Sevens team.

6. Vasek Pospisil was 6 years old when his doubles partner Daniel Nestor competed in his first Olympics in 1996. Rio will be Nestor's 6th Olympics.

Daniel Nestor and Sebastien Lareau won doubles gold at the Olympics in 2000. Can career golden slam champion Nestor team up with Pospisil who won the doubles Wimbledon championship in 2014 to create some magic in Rio?

5. Five teams have qualified for Rio:
  1. field hockey men
  2. rugby women
  3. basketball women
  4. volleyball men
  5. soccer women
Canada's women's basketball team is led by #5 Kia Nurse, Canada's 2015 Pan Am Closing Ceremony Flag Bearer.

After qualifying two teams at the 2012 Olympics, Canada's teams in Rio is partly a result of an influx of funding.

Click here to read "Cash influx revives Canadian team sports for Rio" in the Toronto Star.

4. The Fab IV

Our women's diving team won synchro bronze in 10m synchro (Meaghan Benfeito/Roseline Filion) and 3m synchro (Jennifer Abel/Émilie Heymans) in 2012.

Pamela Ware has since replaced Heymans to pair with Jennifer Abel. Both pairs are aiming to medal in 2016.

3. Andre DeGrasse will compete against Usain Bolt 3 times - 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.

Degrasse was 3rd in the 100m and Canada was 3rd in the relay at the 2015 World Championships. Will they be on the podium in Rio?

2. Teams of 2

Many events have athletes competing with a partner. Canada's teams of 2 are in:
  • beach volleyball (2 women's teams and 2 men's teams)
  • canoe/kayak (K2-200m men), K2-500m women)
  • cycling team sprint (women)
  • diving (women 3m synchro and 10m synchro)
  • rowing (women lightweight double sculls, women pair)
  • sailing (men 470, women 49er FX, mixed Nacra 17)
  • synchronized swimming (duet)
  • tennis (men's doubles, women's doubles)

1. One defending Olympic gold medallist and Flag Bearer

Rosie MacLennan has been known as our only gold medallist from the 2012 Olympics but that title may change if retired weightlifter Christine Girard is upgraded to gold from her bronze after positive doping infractions by the two competitors who won gold and silver.

MacLennan is back in 2016 and aiming for the podium once again. She has been an incredible ambassador to Team Canada in the last quadrennial and is the perfect choice as our flag bearer for the 2016 Olympics.

My daughter with Rosie MacLennan at the Pan Am Countdown event

2008 Olympic Silver medallist Jason Burnett joins Rosie on the trampoline team.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Who benefits if Russians are stripped of 2014 Olympic medals?

With the WADA report offering even more evidence of the state sponsored doping in Russia, the talk and speculation is whether Russia should be allowed to compete in Rio at all. If they are not, then who should take their place and is there time for those replacements to be made? I look forward to see how the IOC answers these questions.

Of course with the 2016 Olympics less than three weeks away, this should be the priority for the IOC but just as important, what should happen to the 33 medals won by Russia in Sochi?

Without doping, Russia would have won medals and so I am sympathetic to the athletes who would have or could have medalled while competing clean.

Ideally, having the ability to prove sample tampering, those the athletes whose samples are proven to be tampered with should lose their medals.

This is above and beyond WADA receiving "serious information that xenon was being used" at the Sochi Olympics to boost performance but can not be proven.

Although it saddens me to hear about the doping, I am encouraged for the future that perhaps people, organizations and countries will be deterred to cheat.

If every Russian athlete is found to have tampered samples, who benefits?

A better question is perhaps who was cheated out of experiencing their Olympic moment?


China would receive 5 more medals.
Norway would get 4 extra medals.
Italy and Canada increase their total medals by 3.
11 other countries would receive the remaining medals.

How would it affect Canada's results?
Canada would receive gold in figure skating team event.
Marc-Antoine Gagnon would win bronze in the moguls event for a Canada podium sweep.
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch would win bronze.
Canada would be awarded its first luge medal ever with a bronze in the team relay.
Charle Cournoyer's bronze medal would be upgraded to silver.

Other interesting stories:
4-time Skeleton World Champion and 7-time World Cup overall champion Martins Dukurs would win his first Olympic gold medal. His brother Tomass would be awarded his first Olympic medal with a bronze.

5-time World Champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy would be upgraded to their first Olympic gold medal in Pairs Figure Skating.

5 individual medals were won by Viktor Ahn from South Korea and Vic Wild from U.S.A. who competed for Russia in 2014.

There are some interesting stories looking back at the medals.

Five individual medals were won by two athletes who became Russian citizens in order to compete in Sochi. Viktor Ahn from South Korea in short track speed skating and Vic Wild from the United States in snowboard alpine. Did these two athletes understand what they were signing up for when they chose to compete for Russia? Were they willing to do anything possible including doping in order to medal at the Olympics?

Viktor Ahn won 3 individual medals (2 gold, 1 bronze) plus a relay gold at the 2006 Olympics. Is it feasible that after being left off the 2010 Olympic team and not having many international results since then that Ahn could win four medals at the 2014 Olympics without doping?

Vic Wild was frustrated by the lack of funding and support from the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association. He married a Russian in 2011 and joined the Russian sports program. You can read a 2014 story about his success here. He and his wife both medalled in Sochi. Did Russia provide him with training, coaching, funding and equipment that he didn't receive in the U.S. or was doping also provided? If he was a clean athlete, it's sad that he is now implicated in this scandal.

Anyone who follows skeleton knows how dominant Martins Dukurs is in the sport. He is the overall World Cup champion for every season since the 2009-2010 season. He won the World Championships in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016. A Russian won the World Championships in 2013 and Olympic gold in 2014 (there was no World Championships in 2014). Alexander Tretiakov had already won gold at the 2010 Olympics. He could have won the Olympics in 2014 competing clean (if he was clean in 2010), but did he? Did Dukurs underperform in 2014 or did Russia ensure that Tretiakov would win? If the Russian cheated and is stripped of his medal, Dukurs would be upgraded to gold and his brother Tomass would be awarded bronze, his first Olympic medal after being 4th in 2010 and 2014.

Initially I was surprised to see the hockey results that Russia didn't medal. Shouldn't this have been an important medal to win for them? Looking at the roster, 15 of the 24 players are in the NHL which would be difficult to add to a doping program. Was the women's hockey medal not important enough or did doping not help their performance?

If red flags weren't already raised by some of the Russian performances, the cross-country 50km race on the last day of competition certainly did. Like the Summer Olympics who award the marathon medals at the closing ceremony, the medallists received their medals at the closing ceremony of the Sochi Games with Russia sweeping the podium. If you look at World Championships medals, one Russian has won silver in 2009 and 2011. What are the chances that three Russian athletes sweep the podium without doping?

If the Russian mogul skier had his sample tampered with, the Canadian team would sweep the podium with Alexandre Bilodeau winning gold, Mikaël Kingsbury silver and Marc-Antoine Gagnon promoted to bronze.

Canada was 4th in three luge events including the team relay. The team was heartbroken at how close they came to win their first Olympic medal. At the time, there was speculation that the track had been tampered with after Russia sled down during the team relay. The teams competed in reverse order of seeding.  The dominant German team who won the men's singles, women's singles and doubles were able to overcome the potential tampering by finishing first. Russia finished second. The other teams to slide after Russia did not medal. Add the doping scandal to the speculated tampering and teams were sliding uphill for medals. If one of these theories is accurate, Canada should have won its first ever luge medal in 2014. 

It's not unusual for Russia to win multiple medals in figure skating. Were they competing clean? If so, hopefully it can be proven that their samples were not tampered with. However, questions remain about Evgeni Plushenko's performance while suffering from a back injury to help Russia win gold in the team event, then pulling out of the singles competition too late for a replacement to be named. It's possible that Russia wins multiple medals without doping, but perhaps Russia didn't want to take that chance.

There was controversy over the scoring for the ladies figure skating competition. If Russia loses its gold medal, Kim Yuna would be boosted up to gold defending her 2010 Olympic gold medal.

Russian pairs have a history of success. One of my favourite pairs of all time are Russians. However in 2010 there was no Russian pairs on the podium. In 2014 they won gold and silver. In the years leading up to 2014 these two teams won one silver in 2011 and one gold in 2013. They never shared the podium but are 1-2 at the 2014 Olympics? The German pair Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy won the World Championships in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014. They won bronze at the 2010 Olympics and the 2014 Olympics. They would be upgraded to gold if the Russian pairs are stripped of their medals. Canada's Dylan Moscovitch and Kirsten Moore-Towers would be upgraded to bronze after finishing 5th. Moscovitch and Moore-Towers split their partnership a few months after the Olympics. Moscovitch now interestingly skates with a Russian skater.

Who could have won medals and didn't? (Full details follow)

Some sports are not as simple as others. With some athletes being eliminated in early rounds or preliminary races, some athletes did not advance to semi finals or finals because they were beaten by alleged doping athletes.

Looking only at fourth place finishes (not medals that would change colour), China would be awarded 5 medals (one of which is in figure skating and three in short track speed skating). This would increase their total medals to 14.

Norway was fourth 4 times behind Russians at the Olympics. This would increase their total medals won to 30.

Italy and Canada would increase their medal count by 3 increasing their total to 11.

Five countries would get two extra medals (Austria, Latvia, France, USA and Germany) and six countries would get one (Czech Republic, Great Britain, Japan, Belarus and Netherlands).

Who would be upgraded to gold if the Russians were stripped of their medals?

Germany - Men Biathlon Relay
Switzerland - Bobsleigh - 2 Man
Latvia - Bobsleigh - 4 Man
Martin Johnsrud Sundby - Norway - Cross-Country 50km
Kim Yuna - South Korea - Figure Skating - Ladies
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy Germany - Figure Skating - Pairs
Canada - Figure Skating Team
Wu Kajing China - Short Track Speed Skating Men's 500m
Sjinkie Knegt - Netherlands - Short Track Speed Skating Men's 1500m
USA - Short Track Speed Skating Men's 5000m relay
Martins Dukurs Latvia - Skeleton (his brother would be awarded the bronze)
Žan Košir Slovenia - Snowboard Men's Parallel Slalom
Nevin Galmarini Switzerland - Snowboard Men's Giant Parallel Slalom

Who won the Russian medals and who finished behind them? 

Biathlon - Men Individual
Bronze Evgeniy Garanichev
 4th Simon Eder - Austria --> Bronze

Biathlon Relay - Men 
Gold Russia
 Silver Germany --> Gold
 Bronze Austria --> Silver
 4th Norway --> Bronze

Biathlon - Women Sprint
Silver Olga Vilukhina
 Bronze Vita Semerenko - Ukraine -->Silver
 4th Karin Oberhofer - Italy --> Bronze

Biathlon Relay - Women
Silver Russia
 Bronze Norway --> Silver
 4th Czech Republic --> Bronze

Bobsleigh - 2 Man
Gold Russia
 Silver Switzerland --> Gold
 Bronze USA --> Silver
 4th Russia --> DQ
 5th Latvia --> Bronze
 (Canada 6th, 7th, 9th -->4th, 5th, 7th)

Bobsleigh - 4 Man
Gold Russia
 Silver Latvia --> Gold
 Bronze USA --> Silver
 4th Russia --> DQ
 5th Great Britain --> Bronze

Cross-Country Skiing  Men 50 km freestyle
Gold Alexander Legkov Russia
Silver Maxim Vylegzhanin Russia
Bronze Ilia Chernousov Russia
4th Martin Johnsrud Sundby - Norway -->Gold
5th Sergei Dolidovich - Belarus --> Silver
6th Robin Duvillard - France --> Bronze

Cross-Country Skiing Men 4x10 km Relay
Silver Russia
 Bronze France --> Silver
 4th Norway --> Bronze

Cross-Country Skiing Team Sprint
Silver  Russia
 Bronze Sweden --> Silver
 4th Norway --> Bronze
 (plus Japan make the final if Russia is DQ'd from semi-final)

Figure Skating Ladies
Gold Adelina Sotnikova Russia
 Silver Kim Yuna - South Korea  --> Gold
 Bronze Carolina Kostner - Italy  --> Silver
 4th Gracie Gold USA --> Bronze

Figure Skating Pairs
Gold Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov Russia
Silver Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov Russia
 Bronze Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy Germany  --> Gold
 4th Pang Qing and Tong Jiam China  --> Silver
 5th Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch Canada --> Bronze

Figure Skating Ice Dancing
Bronze Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov Russia
 4th Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat --> Bronze

Figure Skating Team Trophy
Gold Russia
 Silver Canada  --> Gold
 Bronze USA  --> Silver
 4th Italy --> Bronze

Freestyle Skiing Men's Moguls
Bronze Alexandr Smyshlyaev Russia
 4th Marc-Antoine Gagnon Canada --> Bronze

Luge Men's Singles
Silver Albert Demchenko Russia
 Bronze Armin Zöggeler Italy --> Silver
 4th Andi Langenhan Germany --> Bronze

Luge Team Relay
Silver Russia
 Bronze Latvia --> Silver
 4th Canada --> Bronze

Short Track Speed Skating Men 500m
Gold Viktor Ahn Russia
 Silver Wu Kajing China  --> Gold
 Bronze Charle Cournoyer Canada  --> Silver
 4th Liang Wenhao China --> Bronze

Short Track Speed Skating Men 1000m
Gold Viktor Ahn Russia
Silver Vladimir Grigorev Russia
 Bronze Sjinkie Knegt - Netherlands  --> Gold
 4th Wu Dajing China  --> Silver
 (Penalized in Final Sin Da-woon South Korea classified as 7th)
 B-Final winner Han Tianyu China (classified as 5th) --> Bronze
 B-Final 2nd Russia

Short Track Speed Skating Men 1500m 
Bronze Viktor Ahn Russia
 4th J. R. Celski USA --> Bronze

Short Track Speed Skating Men 5000m Relay
Gold Russia
 Silver USA  --> Gold
 Bronze China  --> Silver
 4th Netherlands --> Bronze

Skeleton Men's
Gold Alexander Tretiakov Russia
 Silver Martins Dukurs Latvia  --> Gold
 Bronze Matthew Antoine USA  --> Silver
 4th Tomass Dukurs Latvia --> Bronze

Skeleton Women's
Bronze Elena Nikitina Russia
 4th Katie Uhlaender USA --> Bronze

Snowboard Men's Parallel Slalom
Gold Vic Wild Russia
Žan Košir Slovenia Gold
 Bronze Benjamin Karl Austria  --> Silver
 4th Aaron March Italy --> Bronze

Snowboard Men's Parallel Giant Slalom
Gold Vic Wild Russia
 Silver Nevin Galmarini Switzerland  --> Gold
Žan Košir Slovenia Silver
 4th Patrick Bussler Germany --> Bronze

Snowboard Cross Men's
Silver Nikolay Alyunin Russia
 Bronze Alex Deibold USA  --> Silver
 4th Paul-Henri de le Rue France --> Bronze

Snowboard Women's Parallel Giant Slalom
Bronze Alena Zavarzina Russia
 4th Meschik Austria --> Bronze

Speed Skating Women 500m
Silver Olga Fatkulina Russia
 Bronze Margo Boer Netherlands  --> Silver
 4th Zhang Hong China --> Bronze

Speed Skating Women 3000m
Bronze Olga Graf
 4th Claudia Pechstein Germany (2002 Olympic record holder) --> Bronze

Speed Skating Team Pursuit
Bronze Russia
 4th Japan --> Bronze

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

One Month To Rio!

In one month, athletes will walk into the Maracanã Stadium in Rio for the opening of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.

Many athletes already know that they will be there but there are still many more who will punch their ticket to Rio in the coming weeks and in particular Canada's track and field trials are this weekend in Edmonton.

Prior to most Olympic Games, the media will focus on the negatives and uncertainties. The Rio Olympics are getting their fair share of negative stories but once the Games start in one month, there will be many more positive stories to focus on.

1. Who will carry the Canadian flag at the Opening Ceremony?

Looking at the past flag bearers, Canada alternates with women carrying the flag at the Winter Olympics and men at the Summer Olympics. Repeating sports doesn't seem to be a problem with ice hockey, speed skating and kayak being represented twice in the past 16 years.

2014 Hayley Wickenheiser (ice hockey)
2012 Simon Whitfield (triathlon)
2010 Clara Hughes (cycling, speed skating)
2008 Adam Van Koeverden (canoe/kayak)
2006 Danielle Goyette (ice hockey)
2004 Nicolas Gill (judo)
2002 Catriona Le May Doan (speed skating)
2000 Caroline Brunet (canoe/kayak)
1998 Jean-Luc Brassard (moguls)
1996 Charmain Crooks (athletics)

I would vote to switch it up and have a woman carry the flag for the Summer Games and have a man in 2018. I would love to see Rosie MacLennan who won our only gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. and won Pan Am gold in 2011 and in Toronto last year.

Looking at the most obvious choices, many are competing too close or too far to the Opening Ceremony to be considered. Rosie competes one week after the Opening Ceremony. The same day as the Athletics competition starts. Will they want to be in Rio that long?

In the past, Canada has chosen a flag bearer with previous Olympic success and with Rosie being front and centre in the media since her gold medal at the London Olympics, she is an easy choice. I will be happy with whoever we choose and can't wait for the announcement.

2. Who is competing for medals on Day 1?

The following events have medals being awarded on Day 1 (local time GMT-3):

  • Shooting Women's 10m Air Rifle Final 10:30-11:30am (no Canadian)
  • Men's Road Race 9:30am-4:15pm (Antoine Duchesne, Hugo Houle, Mike Woods)
  • Shooting Men's 10m Air Pistol Final 3:30pm-4:30pm (no Canadian)
  • Archery Men's Team 2pm-5:45pm (no Canadian)
  • Judo Women's 48kg and Men's 60kg  3:30pm-6:10pm (Sergio Pessoa)
  • Fencing Women's Individual Epée 4pm-6:30pm (Leonora Mackinnon)
  • Weightlifting 7pm Women's 48kg (Jasmine Mian)
  • Swimming 10pm 
    • Men's 400m IM (no Canadian)
    • Men's 400m Freestyle (Ryan Cochrane)
    • Women's 400m IM (Sydney Pickrem, Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson)
    • Women's 4x100m Freestyle Relay  (Penny Oleksiak, Chantal Van Landeghem, Sandrine Mainville, Michelle Williams)

3. Who will win Canada's first medal?

If it's not Ryan Cochrane in the 400m freestyle on Day 1, then it may be Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware in the synchro 3m springboard diving competition on Day 2.

4. Who will win Canada's last medal?

Ariane Fortin (boxing) could win the gold on the last day of competition or bronze the day before on August 20th.

Melissa Bishop could win a medal on the evening of August 20th in the 800m.

There are many more medal contenders competing on the second last day including Women's Mountain Bike with Emily Batty and Catharine Pendrel,  Brooke Henderson' in gold,  Mark De Jonge in the K2 200m as well as the Women's K4 500m, Men's K4 1000m and Men's C2 1000m.

The Women's K4 team won Canada's first gold medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Friday, February 5, 2016

6 Months to Rio 2016 Olympics

In 6 months, athletes will walk into Maracanã stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Part of me is very excited while another part of me is feeling ... uneasy may be the best word to use.

I was just reading my thoughts the week before the 2008 Olympics. I was not excited at that time and it's reassuring to read those thoughts and know that once the Games began, my feelings changed.

Then came the 2010 and 2012 Olympics that I completely looked forward to.

In December 2012, I attended the Dew Tour where 2014 Olympic Qualifying began for the athletes I saw compete in halfpipe and slopestyle. Although I had issues with Russia hosting the Olympics, like I did with Beijing, working with SportCafé leading up to the 2014 Olympics got me an inside view of the excitement. I attended CBC's 100 days to go event and the unveiling of the Team Canada uniforms. I was interviewing athletes as well as the personalities who would be presenting the Games. The 2014 Olympians were the ones I knew the best prior to a Game. Although I was as excited as ever about the medals won, I felt the hurt and disappointment for those athletes who didn't perform up to their expectations more than perhaps I had ever done before.

Following our summer athletes for the past few years leading up to the Pan Am Games and now to Rio, my knowledge of our national team athletes has grown. As wonderful as it is to have followed someone rise up the ranks to become an Olympian, I am starting to recognize that I am cheering for more athletes than there are spots on the Olympic team.

A decade or two ago, we knew the athletes once they were Olympians or perhaps even only when they were medallists. It's much easier today with the coverage given year round for amateur sports fans to know the athletes who are competing at the Olympics and those who just missed making the team.

I attended the trampoline competition at the Pan Am Games. I was excited to see Rosie MacLennan and Karen Cockburn compete and medal at the Games but sad that Sam Sendel who I had followed with the other CIBC Team Next athletes did not qualify. I knew that going into the 2016 Olympics that one of the three wouldn't qualify so if Sam is in, someone else is out. What I did not expect was for two to be out. At the World Championships in the fall, Rosie finished in the top 8 to qualify a spot for Canada at the Olympics. Olympic silver medallist and 2015 Pan Am silver medallist Jason Burnett finished 18th and earned him an opportunity to qualify at the next Olympic qualifying meet. Pan Am gold medallist Keegan Soehn did not make the semi-final and will not compete in Rio (as far as I understand it).

Canada will have one woman and hopefully one man in Rio. In 2012 we had 3 athletes in the top 8 (one medal). In 2008 we had 3 in the top 7 (two medals). Canada winning 4 medals in trampoline at the 2015 Pan Am Games gave me high hopes for our team qualifying 4 athletes for 2016.

After the World Championships, the media celebrated Rosie's qualification and of course they should, but I felt more heartbreak for the others. This is just one example but there are others.

I wrote a blog post last fall about some of the disappointments. You can read it here.

As Olympic qualifying tournaments and meets happen and are scheduled to happen in the months to come, I am almost feeling more nervous for these events than the Games themselves.

I am not saying that going to the Olympic Games is the dream. Of course the athletes want to go and compete for the medals, but I find not going when you are good enough to qualify is heartbreaking.

Posting Old Posts

In case you're following Olympic Hearts on RSS and are seeing "new" old posts popping up, I have so many drafts that I never posted.

Many of them were at the 95% complete stage, so rather than leave them as drafts, I am letting go of my perfectionism and posting them with the original date to have as a record on the blog.

If you're interested in the links, I will add them to this post as I continue to catch up.

Lessons in Sportsmanship -  June 2013 - click here.
Do sports organizations and athletes want us to follow them year round or just during the Olympic Games? - September 2013 - click here.
1000 Days to Rio - November 2013 - click here.
Paralympic Games Announcement - 100 Days to Sochi - December 2013 -click here.
Boycotting the Paralympics is a ridiculous conversation to be having - March 2014 - click here.
Torch Relay and Cauldron Lighting -  July 2015 - click here.
Pan Am Opening Ceremony - in photos - July 2015 - click here.
Pan Am Opening Ceremony - July 2015 - click here.
Beach Volleyball at the Pan Am Games - July 2015 - click here.
Archery at the Pan Am Games - July 2015 - click here.
Trampoline at the Pan Am Games - July 2015 - click here.
Track and Field at the Pan Am Games - July 2015 - click here.
Closing Ceremony in Photos - July 2015 - click here.
Win Canada Win -  October 2015 - click here.
It's not about OHCanada Sports but about the athletes - written October 2015 - click here.
Athlete Fundraisers: Ben Hayward aka VanStarter - December 2015 - click here.
My Pan Am Coverage Rant - December 2015 - click here.
6 Months to Rio 2016 Olympics - February 2016 - click here.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Pan Am Coverage Rant

I often have rants, but don't like to share them. My blog is called Olympic Hearts because I want to share what I love, but there are times when I get upset and need to rant.

I haven't blogged much in the past few months. I am trying to catch up on posts I started and posts I meant to write. Looking at my drafts, I found this post that I wrote on the first weekend of the Pan Am Games.

I understand why I didn't post it at the time. There was so much criticism of the Pan Am Games that I didn't want to add to it, but as the Games continued, the love of the Games really shone through which I was really happy about.

So now that the haters have hopefully left the building so to speak and the only people who would be reading this are the supporters, here's how I was feeling as the Pan Am Games began. An update also follows.

written on Sunday July 12th

Have you been watching the Pan Am Games?

I am arguably one of the biggest fans of the Pan Am Games. I am so excited that they are in my city and that I get to see the Games in person. I would go every day if I could afford it, but I thought at least if I can't be there, I will watch it on television or on livestream.

The Pan Am Games is the "biggest multi-sport event" Canada has ever hosted so the coverage will match its size right?

Well, we're on Day 2 of competition and I have to admit that sometimes it's better to not expect too much. My expectations were very high for the Pan Am Games, and I have to admit that my expectations are not being met.

I had a list of things I wanted to see. Sometimes it fit my schedule or my budget to get a ticket, other times it didn't.

The problem presented itself quite quickly in the first competition of the Games. I wanted to go to the women's triathlon, but going to the Opening Ceremony the night before, I chose to get a ticket to the men's triathlon first and waited for the women's which sold out before I made a decision.

I was SO happy for the athletes that the event was sold out and thought, that's okay, I'll watch it from home.

What do you mean it's not livestreamed? Isn't there 750 hours of coverage? That sounds like a lot, but maybe it's not?

I wanted to see the rugby and was shocked to read this tweet.

You can read the article here.

Over the past few years, rugby is often livestreamed but this event had more meaning to me so I thought I would be even more interested in watching our women and men's teams. Luckily since this article, the decision has been made to add rugby to the livestream (or announce it if that was always the plan) so rugby fans are lucky but that's not the case for other sports.

I would love to see our rowing and canoe/kayak teams. I hesitated to get tickets because of the early starts (9am/10am) and locations (90-120 minutes from my home without traffic) worrying about traffic during the Games.

Familiar words - "no problem". I'll go see these events when the new venues host Canadian Championships or World Cups in the future (I had already seen canoe/kayak sprint competitions in Welland). I'll watch the Pan Am Games at home.

What do you mean I can't watch them from home?

Our women K-4 won the Games' first gold medal and all I saw was the last 10 seconds of their race. Will it be the same when our TORONTO 2015 flag bearer Mark Oldershaw races? Or our Olympic flag bearer and Olympic multi-medallist Adam van Koeverden?

I'll give the TORONTO 2015 and CBC the benefit of the doubt and hope they will have cameras for the last two days of canoe/kayak. There was only one final on the first day when we won our first gold medal.

I wanted to see as much as possible of the competitions.  Saturday, I had plans to watch the livestream starting at 11am then switch to television at 1pm.

There were 20 sports in action on Saturday. I watched the synchronized duets on livestream and had hoped to see some of the other 20 sports on the television coverage. Imagine my disappointment when the television coverage replayed what had been livestreamed. First the diving preliminaries from the previous day (why? they would show the final that evening) and then the synchronized duet.

The women's K4 race lasted 1minute 36 seconds, yet they didn't show the full race.

I wasn't deterred, I went back to the livestream at 2:30pm for the men's gymnastics and the synchronized swimming team free routine and at 6pm for the diving finals. At 7pm, it's time for the prime time show and you guessed it. They're showing what I watched on the livestream.

They showed the end of Tory Nyhaug's BMX winning race (which wasn't livestreamed). I have seen the full race on another channel, so it's not because it wasn't televised.

I understand that there won't be much coverage of a shooting medal. There isn't during the Olympics but I believed that there would be coverage for the major Olympic sports (kayak, rowing, triathlon) and that they have coverage of the medal performances.

I was wrong.

I'm seeing more coverage on CBC Newsworld than the CBC Pan Am coverage. I had CBC Newsworld on TV in the background while I watched the livestream. They would switch to events as medals were won.

Scott Russell is a champion of amateur sports. He loves our athletes. How does he feel about the coverage that we are giving to our athletes, their families and their fans? He just said (on CBC Newsworld), tonight we'll see roller speed skating...but will we? or does he mean the people at the venue will see?

Sunday we won 16 medals. There was 2.5 hours of coverage on CBC. Here's what they showed:
  • 60 minutes diving preliminaries (to determine order for evening final)
  • 80 minutes artistic gymnastics (no Canada - they were in the group that would perform in the evening)
  • 4 minutes triathlon (two 2 minute segments - basically same coverage)
  • 2 minutes mountain bike (two 1 minute segments - last 4 seconds of the race where Canada won gold and silver - no mountain or trees shown in the coverage)
  • 2 minutes rugby (two 1 minute segments)
  • 3 minutes basketball interview
  • less than 1 minute - kayak
Why show diving preliminaries and non-Canada gymnastics for over two hours when the coverage is only two and a half hours?  Why not show a variety of sports and get people excited to go see them? There are so many sports that I haven't seen any coverage of.

If I had been in charge of the Pan Am Games coverage, you would have seen coverage of all the sports, especially the ones we medalled in. You wouldn't have seen hours of preliminaries of what CBC decided were "popular" sports. I was going to add that I would have gotten a lot of complaints if I had shown archery or badminton (that aren't as popular)  but I can't imagine that the viewers were that thrilled to be watching Diving Preliminaries or Artistic Gymnastics where Canada wasn't participating.

******end of July rant

I now have to add that the coverage did improve which is possibly another reason that I didn't post this rant.

Now that a few months have passed, I have to admit that there were only so many hours in the day. I was recording hours upon hours of coverage that I didn't have time to watch with the livestream I was watching and events I was attending. My PVR was at capacity.

I made the mistake of not recording events I was interested in because the livestream events were also available on demand. I didn't expect them to disappear from the website as early as they did.

In the end, I think I learned this summer that my interest for Olympic and Pan Am sports exceeds the number of hours that I can devote to them. Livestream takes a lot longer to watch than highlight shows like CBC Sports Weekend (now called Road to the Olympic Games). Growing up, I could have watch CBC on Saturday afternoon and in a few hours gotten the content of a dozen hours of livestream.  The only difference was that when I was growing up, we didn't have the internet to tell us the results so it was like watching it live.

This afternoon I watched CBC Road to the Olympic Games and luckily had the remote handy to fast forward (and close my eyes) when they started talking about the men's Super-G that was going to be shown a couple of hours later on Sportsnet 360. I understand that they want to cover all the sports highlights of the day but to spoil the result of a program that will be televised?

I have to admit that this is one of the things I love about my website. No I don't have live coverage, but I do acknowledge coverage from various sources. 

Athlete Fundraisers: Ben Hayward aka VanStarter

I wish I could financially support all athletes who need it but I can't. One way I can help is to share their campaigns on the OHCanada Sports website. You can check out the various campaigns I have come across here: Feel free to email/tweet to me those I have missed.

I couldn't resist Ben Hayward's campaign though. How resourceful of him to build a "hobbit van" in order to better control his travel costs and use the skills he was learning while studying architecture at university. My only regret is that I didn't donate the first time I saw it, but I've been following his story since.

His words are much better than mine, so watch this original video when Ben started VanStarter over a year ago with the original dream explaining the reasons for building the hobbit van and how he did it (with the help of a friend).

Some items on the original list mentioned in this video may no longer be available. Initially I was drawn to the names on the maple leaf. I love the maple leaf, from our flag to our fall colours. The number on my house has a maple leaf design with it, so I would have loved to have my name added to the maple leaf.

Here's a recent video of the ongoing project showing the original names on the maple leafs (you can't actually read them on the video, but I have seen photos of the names, I imagine on Ben's Facebook page - hence my regret at not being on there).

To be honest, I didn't know if there would even be space left on the maple leaf for names, t-shirts or recipe books left when I donated recently, but my decision to support VanStarter was more to help him than to get something back. At first I thought of emailing him to ask, but then realized, it didn't matter. I wanted to help and as long as the funds reached him, that's all I cared about.

When I received the beaver/paddle t-shirt that he designed, I was thrilled and especially surprised with the creative label (though I guess if someone knows Ben, they wouldn't be surprised). He seems like a person who pays attention to detail which will serve him well in his training as well as in architecture career that will follow.

Have you seen anything like it? I haven't.

If his creativity and hard work isn't reason enough to support Ben, how about adding a little humour (coupled with advertising for one of his sponsors)? Thanks to Ben's mum for sharing some videos in our communications when she was mailing the t-shirt to me.

Having a brother-in-law who is a talented carpenter (click here for his website), I especially love the following video showing how Ben built the side window to the van.

Click here for the video. Here's the intro to the video:

"The space in my van was badly in need of some natural light so in the last week of April 2015, I decided to take on the project of installing a new side window. I designed and built every component in the window, trying to make it as interesting and intricate as possible. The window is made up of a complicated pattern of openings that is designed to be both beautiful but also to serve as heat deflection and as a visual screen to give me privacy indoors. Thanks so much to Edern, Carole, Yann, Ken, Bastien, Thibaud, and Marion for letting me decimate your basement for the duration of this project."

I wish I had thousands of dollars to donate to his campaign, maybe some day, OHCanada Sports will have the ability and finances to sponsor him (at least in my dreams it does) but for now, my next bucket list item is to see him compete and even more difficult or geographically challenging, to see the hobbit van in person.

I wish I had seen him at the Pan Am Games. There are various reasons why one of the dozen events I attended wasn't canoe kayak slalom, some of which were location, schedule and ticket availability. I will follow up this topic on a different post that I should have written months ago. For now let me say that if I was to do it again my ticket purchases would be different (and even more numerous), but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

[As I am writing those posts that I said should have been written long ago, I am looking at my photos and remembering that I did see Ben at the Pan Am Games, just not when he was competing. I was very happy to see the Canoe Kayak Slalom team at the medal ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square]

So GO Ben GO. Look forward to following your Road To Rio!!