The land of the maple leaf may bring ice and winter sport to mind, but Canada has some muscle in warm weather sports as well. Our country is sending a strong contingent of athletes to the summer Olympic Games in London, many of whom are threats to stand on the podium. Here are some of the Canadian athletes to keep an eye on during the upcoming events.
Karen Cockburn is one of the top trampoline gymnasts in the world. She is the only trampoline gymnast to have won a medal at every Olympic Games since the sport debuted at the Sydney games in 2000. She won the bronze medal in Sydney, and the silver medal at the Athens games in 2004 and the Beijing Games in 2008. She was given the honor of carrying the Canadian flag in the Beijing closing ceremonies, and the London Games are likely to be her last Olympics. If Cockburn wins a medal in London, she will not only add to her legacy as the most decorated trampoline gymnast in history, she will also become the only Canadian athlete to medal in four different summer Olympic Games.
Clarke and Bjorn – Sailing
The Star sailing duo of Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn has Olympic experience to spare. Bjorn comes from a sailing family, and both his father and brother competed in past Olympic Games. Clarke will be appearing in his 5th Olympic Games, after previously competing in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004.
Clarke and Bjorn have been friends and competitors for 25 years, but recently joined forces to boost their chances of standing on the podium in London. They have been training in Europe along-side the defending gold medalist British team.
Mary Spencer – Boxing
Mary Spencer is a middleweight boxer expected to challenge for the gold medal in London. Her resume includes eight Canadian Championships, five Pan American Games gold medals, and three World Championships. She boasts an overall record of 118-8, and won gold at the most recent Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Three weight categories of women’s boxing will be included in the London Olympic Games for the first time. Spencer will be hoping to bring one of the first three gold medals home to Canada.
Ryan Cochrane - Swimming
Ryan Cochrane is a distance swimmer hoping to build on a successful 2008 Olympic Games during which he won bronze in the 1500 meter freestyle. He set the Olympic record in the event during the Beijing preliminaries, before previous record holder and eventual silver medalist Grant Hackett broke the record in a following heat.
In addition to the 1500 meters, Cochrane also competes in the 400 and 800 meter freestyle. He is the reigning Pan Pacific Championship gold medalist in the 800 and 1500, and the reigning Commonwealth Championships gold medalist in the 400 and 1500.
Clara Hughes – Cycling
Cyclist and speed skater Clara Hughes is looking to become the most decorated Canadian Olympian in history. She is currently tied with speed skater Cindy Klassen at six medals, two from the 1996 summer Olympics, and four from three separate winter Olympics.
Hughes is the only Canadian – and one of only five people in the world – to have won medals in both a summer and a winter Olympic Games. She is the only person in history to have won multiple medals in both the summer and winter Olympic Games. Also well known for her humanitarian efforts, and has been named to the Oder of Manitoba and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Eric Lamaze – Show Jumping
Show jumper Eric Lamaze earned the gold medal in the Beijing Olympic Games. Lamaze and the stallion Hickstead completed one of the great Olympic show jumping performances in claiming the top podium spot and earning Canada’s first ever individual equestrian gold.
Hickstead was named the best horse in the world in 2010 at the World Equestrian Games, but died of an aortic rupture in 2011. Lamaze, still the top ranked rider in the world, must attempt to defend his Olympic gold in London aboard a new horse.
Paula Findlay – Triathlon
Paula Findlay is a triathlete who has taken an unexpectedly rocky road to the 2012 London Olympic Games. She won three straight World Triathlon Series races in early 2011, and looked like one of the athletes to beat in London. Then, in June, Findlay suffered a hip muscle tear that prevented her from training and racing for several months.
Findlay qualified for the London Olympic Games, but is still working to catch up to the health and fitness levels of her competitors. If Findlay is healthy on the starting line in London, she has a good chance at a medal.
Dylan Armstrong – Shot put
Few people have come closer to an Olympic medal than shot putter Dylan Armstrong, only to suffer disappointment. Armstrong was a centimeter away from the bronze medal in Beijing, although he achieved both a personal best and a Canadian Olympic record.
Armstrong finished 2nd at the 2011 World Championships, and earned the gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games. He hopes to put the disappointment of Beijing behind him and leave London with an Olympic medal.
Catharine Pendrel - Cycling
Catharine Pendrel is competing in her 2nd Olympic Games in the sport of mountain biking. She finished 4th at the Beijing Games, but is likely to improve on that performance in London.
Pendrel won the mountain bike World Championship in September of 2011, and is the current points leader in the International Cycling Union World Cup Series. The race for the London gold medal will go through her.
Adam van Koeverden – Kayaking
Sprint kayaker Adam van Koeverden is looking to add to an already impressive array of Olympic medals. At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, van Koeverden earned the gold medal in the 500 meter sprint, and the bronze medal in 1000 meter spring. The Canadian flag bearer at the Beijing opening ceremonies, van Koeverden went on to set a world record and eventually win silver in the 500.
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