Women are better represented among the country’s medal contenders – but even a man could be our darling
It’s an even more tricky business trying to guess who will be the person who sticks in people’s minds. Prior to the 2014 Winter Games, it’s doubtful that more than a handful of Canadians had ever heard of Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe. They took gold and silver in moguls, which is the sort of thing Canada does so often it’s got a little rote (if not, one assumes, any easier).
What burned them into the collective consciousness was an image of the sisters holding hands on the podium while the anthem played. You could argue it a long time, but that is probably the picture they’ll dig up in 25 years to explain what Canada did in Sochi. That’s how stars are made – in snapshots and through a relatable humanity.
ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS, globeandmail.com http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/olympics/in-brazil-the-canadian-women-will-run-theworld/article31200083/
If there’s someone more likely than others to manage that in Rio, it’s heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton. The 27-year-old from Saskatchewan has proved a reliable podium lock in recent seasons. She has that effortless charm you only seem to find in amateurs. Regardless of how much they’ve won, most of them have an uncanny ability to remain unspoiled.
Most importantly, the heptathlon – a mixture of seven track and field disciplines – has the feel of something very fundamentally Olympic. If the goal is higher, faster and stronger, heptathlon measures all three.
Winning this particular gold doesn’t just make you the best at what you do. It qualifies you as one of the small group of people who might claim to be the best athlete alive.
If you were placing odds on which face you will associate with Rio in a month’s time, Theisen-Eaton is the early favourite.
Who else might rise?
Most of the key names are already familiar. Two-time world champion Catharine Pendrel will vie for her first Olympic podium finish in mountain biking. A quartet of veteran divers – Jennifer Abel, Meaghan Benfeito, Roseline Filion and Pamela Ware – could deliver as many as four medals. If she does well, 18-year-old golfer Brooke Henderson puts herself into the discussion for Canada’s most recognized sportsperson.