While Brant residents don’t have a local athlete to cheer for this time around, the 2012 London Summer Olympics are proving a hit locally and across the nation.
On a decidedly beautiful summer day, many in Brant were glued to their television sets on Saturday afternoon to see the world’s fastest man, Jamaican Usain Bolt, repeat as Olympic champion in the 100-metre dash. Earlier, they were dazzled by American Michael Phelps’ record-breaking performance in the pool when he became the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 22 medals over three Olympic Games, 18 of them gold.
Canadian athletes have been doing their part to stir excitement during the Games, so far producing impressive athletic performances and the gold, silver and bronze medals to prove it.
Rosie Maclennan, competing in women’s trampoline, claimed Canada’s first gold medal in London. Our men’s and women’s eight rowing teams both claimed silver medals, as did Ryan Cochrane in men’s 1500-metre freestyle swimming. Swimmer Brent Hayden made the podium in men’s 100-metre freestyle with a third-place finish, while Canadian divers, a judo athlete and weightlifter have also claimed bronze. These are just some of our Canadian success stories in London.
CTV, the television network carrying the Olympics in Canada, says the number of people tuning in to the London Games is so far up as much as 87 per cent over the Beijing Games of 2008. An audience of 6.2 million Canadians watched as Bolt claimed a second-consecutive Olympic gold medal on Saturday. Those are certainly some big numbers, but here’s an even bigger one to consider: since the start of the London Olympics, a whopping 30.5 million Canadians have watched some television coverage of the Games. That number is equal to 90.7 per cent of the nation’s population.
The numbers certainly show these London Olympics are a pretty big deal, even if they are happening an ocean away.
As noted off the top, Brant doesn’t have an athlete competing in London, but we do boast a tradition of producing Olympic athletes.
In recent decades, those athletes have included runner Kevin Sullivan, badminton player Mike Beres, swimmers Julie Howard and Tanya Hunks, as well as Wayne Gretzky, who competed as part of Canada’s Olympic hockey team at the Winter Games in 1998.
And when it comes to Brant’s Olympic prospects moving forward, the future looks bright.
Burford’s Caleb McCleary, an 18-year-old rower training at Canada’s National Development Centre this summer, is aiming for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Marathon runner Krista DuChene, who many thought should be included on Canada’s team in London, has proven she can compete at the highest level of her sport. With golf returning to the Olympics in 2016, Brantford’s David Hearn, a regular on the PGA Tour, could find himself competing in Brazil in four years time. Young gymnast Heaven Latimer is also working toward a spot on Canada’s Olympic squad.
And that’s not to mention a fine crop of swimmers honing their skills with the Brantford Aquatic Club and W. Ross Macdonald Silver Otters Swim Club.
So as Brant residents enjoy the remainder of the 2012 Olympic Games, they can rest assured our Olympic tradition is in good hands, with local athletes ready to take on the world in 2016 and beyond. And who knows? Perhaps next time it will be a Brant athlete standing proudly on the podium as Canada’s national anthem is played.