CBC Sports

Olympics2012The Games: Les belles medailles de bronze

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | 09:38 PM

Categories: Olympics2012

Back to accessibility links
Canadian diver Roseline Filion celebrates with a coach after winning a bronze medal with Meaghan Benfeito in the women's synchro 10-metre platform competition at the London Aquatics Centre on Tuesday. (Clive Rose/Getty Images) Canadian diver Roseline Filion celebrates with a coach after winning a bronze medal with Meaghan Benfeito in the women's synchro 10-metre platform competition at the London Aquatics Centre on Tuesday. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Supporting Story Content

End of Supporting Story Content

Back to accessibility links

Beginning of Story Content

All six of Canada's athletes involved in podium finishes at the London Olympics have done the bulk of their training in Quebec. It may be a coincidence but, then again, it may not. We've seen this before.

These are early days, but so far, athletes from Quebec have done the heavy lifting when it comes to producing Canadian medals at the 2012 Olympics.

Four days are done. Four medals have been won. All six of the athletes involved in podium finishes have done the bulk of their training in La Belle Province.

It may be a coincidence but, then again, it may not.  Perhaps the results so far speak to the fact that an environment exists in that province which fosters high performance on the Olympic stage and in a variety of athletic disciplines.

We've seen this before.

It's often not tangible but there seems to be an appreciation in Quebec for what these Olympians do.  Quite often, as it is with mogul skier Alexandre Bilodeau, figure skater Joannie Rochette and diver Alexandre Despatie, such athletes are regarded as celebrity figures and enjoy a certain amount of notoriety in their home province.

They are also exceptionally well supported in terms of resources.

"We train at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal and we have everything we need to succeed," said diving bronze medallist Roseline Filion who partnered with Meaghan Benfeito to record Canada's second medal of the Games in the 10-metre synchronized event. 

"We have the gym where we train alongside the short track speedskaters, the dry land training facility, physiotherapy, psychologists and massage.  We have it all to be successful."

Plus, the Quebec athletes have history on their side.

Tradition of divers

There is a tradition of divers who have succeeded like Sylvie Bernier, Annie Pelletier, Anne Montminy, Emilie Heymans, and the list goes on.  All of them have been Olympic medallists and all of them have honed their craft in Quebec.  Many of them still live in the province and are a constant reminder to aspiring athletes that success on the international stage is achievable.

"It's very important to be surrounded by role models," Meaghan Benfeito suggested.  "Annie Pelletier's bronze medal in Atlanta was won 16 years ago today and it inspired me as a young diver to be here now."

The same situation exists with judo's Antoine Valois-Fortier and weightlifter Christine Girard, who also captured bronze medals on the fourth day of the London Games.

Valois-Fortier is coached by Nicolas Gill, a double Olympic medallist himself who carried the Canadian flag into the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics. Meantime Girard, who was born in Ontario but grew up in Rouyn-Noranda, benefited from training in close proximity to Maryse Turcotte, an immensely popular lifter who was dubbed by some as "Mighty Mouse."

The point is this.  There's something special about Quebec when it comes to this kind of sport.  It seems that the athletes are valued, even revered in that place.

They do not make up a majority of the Canadian team but their numbers are significant.  Fifty-nine of the 277 athletes in the Maple Leaf contingent come from Quebec ... there are more from both Ontario and British Columbia.

And it's not a situation where the athletes who were successful today consider themselves distinct from or better than their teammates.

Meaghan Benfeito bristled noticeably when someone asked her about being especially proud of the day because all of the medallists were Quebecers.

"No, we are one big happy gang," she said of the Canadian team.  "We are equally as proud of our home in Quebec as we are of our home in Canada."

It was particularly well said.

For although the day and les belles medailles de bronze had a noticeable Quebecois hue. The sunset was coloured all-Canadian.

End of Story Content

Back to accessibility links

Story Social Media

End of Story Social Media