I have the honour of working with CTV for the London 2012 Olympic Games as the swimming commentator and I will be sharing our Canadian athletes’ stories as they summit their athletic goals of winning an Olympic medal.
There will be heartbreak and disappointment, but I have a feeling that after the positive ripple effect of Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the huge success of our athletes there is a new sense of self confidence and self belief that our present Canadian athletes possess.
Our summer Olympic athletes are gearing up to achieve more than ever before. The countdown to the official Opening Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympics is eight days away, on Friday July 27. The whole world will watch the spectacle and athletic extravaganza to go on for the following 16 days.
Competitive swimming starts on Saturdy, July 28 and is eight days in duration. The heavyweights will be the showdown between American swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte who will battle it out on the first evening in the 400m Individual medley (IM). This IM event is where the swimmers swim all four strokes in one race- butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
If Phelps is successful in striking gold, he will be the first male to win the same event in three consecutive Olympic Games.
Two females have already accomplished this feat, Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser and Hungarian Kristina Egerzegi.
Phelps had an incredible and flawless program winning eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He holds the title for the most Olympic gold medals of any athlete, and will try to break the last remaining title- Most Overall Olympic Medals.
He sits with 16 medals secured from his three Olympics, and will try to top Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina’s 18 medals.
With all the hype of Phelps and Lochte, let’s not overlook our Canadian team who are on a mission to rise to the medal podium.
The Canadian swim team will be led by two British Columbians, Ryan Cochrane of Victoria and Brent Hayden of Mission. Hayden is a sprint specialist, a reigning silver medallist in the 2011 World Championships in the 100m freestyle.
While Cochrane is the bronze medalist from the 2008 Olympics in the 1500m and has his sights set on podium performances in both the 1500m and 400m freestyle events. Our Canadian women’s team could have some podium performances with Julia Wilkinson of Stratford Ontario who trains in Victoria and Sinead Russell of Burlington Ontario in the 100m backstroke.
The 200m breastroke will be a showdown with the Canadians right up there chasing the world record. Martha McCabe who trains in Vancouver alongside team mate Tera Van Beilen both train under breastroke guru Jozsef Nagy and recently posted times within reach of Olympic medal standards.
I finished fourth and fifth at the Olympic Games, tenths away from an Olympic medal, but I can see the new identity of the Canadian team — a solid belief that they deserve to be best in the world — gives them more strength than previous teams.
I know our Canadian athletes today believe they can climb that Olympic performance because they see themselves as worthy champions.
I recently heard an evolved saying that applies to our Canadian Olympic athletes.
“You have to see it before you can achieve it!”
The power of the mind and mental strength will play a huge role in the results of our Canadian athletes in London.
Our Canadian swimmers see themselves winning gold and it will be an amazing honour and thrill to give the play by play of their journey.
Have fun cheering on our Canadian athletes and remember, they all started out like our local athletes — learning to love sport and all of its healthy benefits.
Naturally for some, it progresses into something much more, simply because they are determined to make their dreams come true.
Joanne Malar is a three-time Olympic Swimmer, 2012 CTV London Olympic Analyst, Summerland Parks and Recreation Programmer and Head Coach for ORCA Swim Team.