CALGARY — Catriona Le May Doan says she’s ready to mentor and shield Canada’s athletes at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist in speedskating was named Canada’s 2022 chef de mission Tuesday by the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Le May Doan won gold in the 500 metres in 1998 and 2002. She became the first Canadian to successfully defend an Olympic title.
The 49-year-old from Saskatoon lives in Calgary, where she’s president and chief executive officer of Sport Calgary.
The four-time Olympian worked as a CBC and CTV Olympic commentator since retiring from her sport.
Le May Doan served on the Canadian team’s mission staff in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
She was a lead athlete mentor working alongside chef de mission Isabelle Charest, from whom Le May Doan inherits the job.
“It was a great experience in 2018 being on the mission team. I knew that I wanted to do more than that,” Le May Doan told The Canadian Press.
“It really does kind of complete my Olympic circle, having been athlete, media and mission team. It was something I really wanted, I think maybe more than I even understood.”
Canadian athletes won 29 medals, including 11 gold, to rank third behind Norway and Germany in the overall medal count in Pyeongchang.
The chef de mission, or “head of mission”, is an ambassador for the entire team leading into and during the Games.
Once a role given to Canadian sport administrators, the volunteer position is now filled by former Olympic athletes.
Champion rower Marnie McBean is Canada’s chef for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Previous chefs include cyclist Curt Harnett (2016), skier Steve Podborski (2014), swimmer Mark Tewksbury (2012), speedskater Nathalie Lambert (2010) and diver Sylvie Bernier (2008).
“Catriona has huge credibility and respect in the sport and broader community, is an inspiring leader and is passionate about sport and the Olympic movement,” COC president Tricia Smith said in a statement.
“Between her vast experience in the world of sport, her integrity and the way she consistently lives the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship, we are all extremely fortunate and excited to have Catriona as chef for Beijing 2022.”
In addition to mentorship, the chef de mission also deals with Canadian team issues that can erupt into a firestorm.
When Le May Doan claimed her first gold medal in Nagano, Japan, Canadian chef Bill Wakelin dealt with snowboarder Ross Rebagliati being stripped of his gold medal because he tested positive for marijuana.
The medal was reinstated before the closing ceremonies because marijuana wasn’t on the prohibited list of banned substances.
Le May Doan carried Canada’s flag into the 2002 opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City, where chef Sally Rehorick got little sleep because of a figure-skating judging scandal.
Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier performed what many believed was the superior free skate, but were given lower marks and a silver medal behind a Russian duo.
The controversy burned and kept Canada front and centre at the Games until a duplicate set of gold medals were awarded to Sale and Pelletier.
“There’s stuff in every Games for sure. In certain ways for me, it was good because it took attention away from me,” Le May Doan recalled. “There’s so much pressure you put on yourself.
“When things are good, the chef steps aside and says the focus is on the athlete and that’s what the Games are about.
“But when things are stressful, if there’s some situation you have to deal with, the chef’s role is to then stand in front of the team and be that spokesperson and take that sort of distraction away from the athletes.”
Canada’s winter-sport athletes are facing travel complications, postponement and cancellation of events and shortened seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada’s relationship with China is strained. Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 because of an extradition agreement with the United States.
China immediately arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who are still in custody.
Canada’s United Nations ambassador Bob Rae criticized China’s treatment of Uyghur people in The Globe and Mail this week.
In the same article, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology scholar Timothy Grose, who specializes in Chinese ethnic policy, suggested a boycott of the 2022 Olympics.
When Le May Doan bore Canada’s flag into the 2002 opening ceremonies, the man carrying the “Canada” placard in front of her was Brian Maxwell.
He wasn’t wearing a Canadian uniform, Le May Doan said, and Canada’s athletes didn’t know who he was
Maxwell was a Canadian marathoner who wasn’t allowed to race in the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.
Canada had joined other countries in boycotting the Games over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
“A boycott only hurts the athletes. It does not solve anything,” Le May Doan said.
“My role as chef and the athletes’ role is to prepare and then go to the Games to show Canadian values, to represent our country, to represent Olympic values on that world stage and build bridges between countries.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2020.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Marine McBean’s first name.
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.
Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.
Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.
Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.
He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.
Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.
“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.
“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)