With last night’s #ClosingCeremony, we’ve officially closed the book on the #Rio2016 Games! These Games were shrouded in negativity before they began, with worries of diseases, violence, and more plaguing the organizing committee. And while we could again focus on all of these things, we won’t, because these Games were so much more than that! These Games were a sort of coming out party for Team Canada (@TeamCanada) and celebrate our summer sport athletes – athletes who are often overlooked and not given the credit they so rightly deserve.
Last week we completed a week one recap of some of our favourite moments and it seems only fitting that we do the same for the second week of the Rio Games!
To kick our list off, we have to start with the amazing performances of young sprinter Andre De Grasse (@De6rasse)! De Grasse came into these Games with a lot of pressure on his shoulders, as one of the only Canadian athletes that was well-known across the country. But De Grasse faced the largest competition of any athlete at these Games, he had to go head-to-head with none other than two-time Olympian Usain Bolt (@usainbolt)!
While De Grasse was never quite able to beat Bolt in their head-to-head battles in Rio, he is coming home with one silver and two bronze medals, medalling in every single race he competed in and coming home having set multiple national records and personal bests along the way! We know that we, like we’re sure many of you, were on the edges of our seats through every qualification, semi-final, and finals race that De Grasse ran and we wouldn’t change a thing! We found ourselves laughing with De Grasse and loving every single fist bump and high five that was exchanged between the Jamaican superstar and the Canadian up-and-comer!
As much as we wanted to see De Grasse stand atop the podium at these Olympics, we know his time will come and that when #Tokyo2020 rolls around, the world’s new fastest man will be proudly wearing the maple leaf on his chest! So, as we wait for the next Summer Games, be sure to keep your eyes open for this young phenom and imagine what Olympic gold will look like hanging around his neck!
While De Grasse stole much of the attention during week two, Canadians were also treated to outstanding performances from both of our track and field combined sport athletes – Brianne Theisen-Eaton (@btheiseneaton) and Damian Warner (@DamianWarner)! Competing in heptathlon and decathlon respectively, both athletes came into these Summer Games as expected medalists, and both did just that!
Theisen-Eaton had a tough opening day, struggling in many of the first four events, oftentimes finding herself in the fifth and sixth positions throughout the competition. But she was not to be overlooked. Theisen-Eaton decided not to let her day one troubles get in her way, and really stepped up her competition for the final three events, working her way into a medal position in the second last event and not letting up. Theisen-Eaton came away from these Games with a hard earned and well-deserved bronze medal and we couldn’t be more proud! We watched all of her hard work payoff in the best possible way! Her strong performance and resilience certainly made her one of our favourite athletes to compete in Rio!
Theisen-Eaton’s strong performance was followed up by an equally strong performance from her friend and teammate Damian Warner! Warner’s trip to the Olympic podium was very different than Theisen-Eaton’s however. He started the decathlon off on a high note, picking up a win and an Olympic record in the 100m race to kick-off what we knew would be a special event for him and all of Canada! Warner competed hard on day one of the competition, keeping himself in tight competition with world record holder (and Theisen-Eaton’s husband) Ashton Eaton (@AshtonJEaton), and firmly holding onto second place! But the second day of competition was not as easy for Warner, who struggled to hold onto the silver medal position; slipping midway through the day to bronze and never regaining the necessary points. However, as Canadians, we sat in awe as we watched Warner compete in not one, not two, not even three but TEN events over two days! The athleticism required to compete in decathlon is incredible, but being able to medal at the Olympics? Warner seems superhuman to us!
When we’re talking about impressive moments at these Olympics, we would be simply wrong to not include newly minted Olympic gold medalist Derek Drouin (@ddrouin10)! Drouin jumped his way into Olympic history in the high jump in an absolutely thrilling performance! Not only was Drouin the only athlete to clear 2.38m, but he also was the only athlete to jump cleanly throughout the entire competition! After securing himself the gold, Drouin made one attempt at the Olympic record! We held our breaths, willing him over the bar, but when it came down and he stood on the mat smiling and waving at the crowd, we knew that the Olympic record didn’t matter. What mattered was that Drouin had just won Canada’s third gold medal of the Rio Games!
Coming into these Olympics, Drouin was one of the most under the radar athletes, even though he brought a bronze home from #London2012. In a segment on CBC, Drouin asked students at York University to guess one of his major accomplishments from a list that included: winning a Juno, being a national champion, among others. We firmly believe that things are about to change for Drouin and that he’ll no longer have to question whether or not Canadians know who he is or what his accomplishments are!
One team that didn’t come away with a medal but had us biting our nails throughout the Games was the men’s volleyball team! Team Canada ranked 12th in the world. We’ve both watched this volleyball team when they played in Toronto at the Pan Am Games last summer and were so impressed, which made us even more excited for the team to take to the court in Rio! They kicked off the tournament with a shocking win over the #5 ranked US team, which had us jumping up and down! But they didn’t stop there!
Volleyball Canada (@VBallCanada) continued their quest to the playoffs with a strong win over a struggling Mexico squad! That put Canada is a tough place, they needed to beat Italy – the top team in Pool A – in order to ensure their place in the playoff round! With this knowledge in hand, team Canada came out swinging! They bumped, volleyed, and spiked their way through their toughest match of the tournament, keeping us absolutely glued to the TV! Gavin Schmitt (@SchmittyGav) put the entire team, and nation, on his back and took down the strong Italian group! We couldn’t believe what we had just witnessed, but we were so excited! While the Canadians weren’t able to advance beyond the quarterfinals, the team impressed us with every single set in Rio! We think this spells the beginning of amazing things for the Volleyball Canada program and we can’t wait to see what this team is able to do leading up to #Tokyo2020!
Another team that absolutely blew us away game in and game out was our amazing women’s soccer team! Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN), which won bronze at #London2012, came into Rio with a lot of pressure to repeat as medalists at these Games, which would be a struggle with a number of key pieces from the London team no longer being with the team as they headed into Rio! But these ladies, from the youngest to the oldest, were prepared for the pressure!
We could recount every fantastic moment – from Melissa Tancredi’s (@MelTancredi14) two goal performance against world #2 Germany, to Deanne Rose’s strong performance in the team’s final game of the tournament – but, instead, we want to focus on a moment that came after the final whistle had sounded and it was clear that Canada had once again secured a bronze at the Olympics!
The heart and soul of the Canadian team is, without question, captain Christine Sinclair (@sincy12)! Sinclair, not known for her emotions, was visibly shaken after the final whistle, completely breaking down and even struggling to choke back tears during her post-game interview. The reason for the intensely private captain’s reaction is what she’s been enduring this year, something she has kept quiet from the media. Within the past year, Sinclair has not only had to deal with the death of her father, but also her mother’s illness. Watching the tears stream down her face as she celebrated her back-to-back Olympic bronze medals with her teammates had our hearts pouring out to her.
Much like the heart-wrenching story of Rugby Canada’s (@RugbyCanada) Jen Kish (@jen_kish) and her father, we found ourselves wiping our eyes as we listened to Coach John Herdman (@coachherdman) talk about Sinclair and her family and as she yelled into the camera when she had her medal placed around her neck, we cheered with her. There are very few athletes we think deserved that medal as much as Sinclair and we’re so glad that if this is her last major international competition (and we do mean if, because we’re hoping we see her at the World Cup in 2019 and even at #Tokyo2020), that she at least got to go out on a high note!
There were so many highs to these Olympic Games and we really have had a hard time parring them down to these two recaps. We are so proud of all of our athletes! Team Canada came away with 22 medals, 2 Olympic records (courtesy of Penny Oleksiak (@OleksiakPenny) and Damian Warner), countless national records, and even more personal bests! Canadians have never been more proud to wave their flag in the summer and sing O Canada at the top of their lungs! This was the coming out party our summer Olympians have been waiting for and we couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of them! So, as the curtains fall on #Rio2016, we’re thankful for the memories, proud of the accomplishments, and can’t wait for the next time we can come together as a nation to celebrate! And just in case you’re keeping track at home, we’re just 534 days away from #PyeongChang2018 and 1434 days until #Tokyo2020!