Canada won its first medal in the 2016 Olympics last night in the women’s 4X100m freestyle relay. The young team comprised of Sandrine Mainville, 24, Chantal van Landeghem, 22, Taylor Ruck, 16, and Penny Oleksiak, 16 didn’t just bring home Canada’s first medal, they were the first team to medal in this event in 40 years.
Wooooo, Go Canada Go!
For me, the most interesting part of this story was how this team got there. If you were watching the events leading up to this final, you would know that the team that qualified for this match was not the same one that won. In the heats, the team was comprised of Mainville, Landeghem, Ruck and Michelle Williams.
The coach made a choice to let Olesiak rest during the heat because of her other races that day and bring her back for the finals. That meant that one swimmer was not going to get to race in the final if they made it. They made it and Willams was replaced with the rising swimming superstar Olesiak.
Williams cheered her teammates on from the sidelines as they won bronze. In her interviews after the race, she was excited for her team and said she cried when they won. She seemed genuinely excited and not at all bent out of shape that she had been removed from the team.
The sportsmanship from the Canadian athletes is never lacking. We have seen this in past Olympics, with athletes giving up their spots in events to other athletes that had a better chance at bringing home a medal for Canada.
After the win, the whole team, including Williams, was interviewed by the CBC and Olesiak took off her medal and put it on Williams to wear during the interview. Seriously, all the feels.
This is why I love the Olympics. This is why I love Canada in the Olympics. This is why the Canadian heroes of the games are often times not winners themselves, but the ones that really embody what it means to be Canada. This is why people all over the world think Canadians are so wonderful.
Michelle Williams, and other Team Canada athletes that put the team above themselves are the ones that make Team Canada really great.
Of note, Williams will also receive a bronze medal for the race because of her part in getting the team to the podium.