Small town Ontario gets behind Olympian Julie-Anne Staehli

Supporters in Julie-Anne Staehli's hometown of Lucknow, Ont., are hanging flags and bending pool noodles into Olympic Rings. The long-distance runner is competing in the women's 5000-metre race.

Long-distance runner known as 'Cheetah' in her hometown of 1200 people

Ellen Peel decorated the front porch of her stone house. (Ellen Peel )

It's a long road from Lucknow, Ont. to Toyko.

Ahead of Julie-Anne Staehli women's 5000-metre race on Friday, here's what it looks like in her Bruce County, Ont. hometown.

Neighbours Helen and Brian Van Osch suspended Olympic rings made of wire wreath frames and coloured electrical tape. (Helen Van Osch)

"It's been a terrible couple of years, so to have something to celebrate is wonderful," said Lucknow's Chamber of Commerce vice president, Mary Ellen Pollard. 

Julie-Anne Staehli of Lucknow, Ont., after finishing the 5000 metre race at the Portland Track Festival in Oregon on May 29, 2021for the first time under 15 minutes at 14:57.50. (Photo by Jake Willard/Submitted by Julie-Anne Staehli)

"I know she has run up and down a lot of these township roads for a long time, practicing and getting to where she is," said Pollard. 

"Her dedication certainly is well-known around here."

This row of about sixty straw bales, wrapped in green plastic, spans about 416 ft. It reads "Good luck Julie Anne, Tokyo 2021, with you in spirit, Go J.A. go, " and features 11 Canadian flags. (Jennifer Miltenburg)

To qualify for Canada's Olympic team, Staehli ran under the 15-minute mark in Portland, Ore., finishing at 14:57.50. 

Staehli said the complications of the pandemic make the experience even more special. On top of training, she graduated last month from Western University in London, Ont., with a teaching degree. 

Julie-Anne's former high school teacher Shannon Mercer put up this sign in neighbouring Wingham, Ont. (Shannon Mercer )

416 ft. sign for Olympian Julie-Anne Staehli

11 months ago
Duration 0:28
Sixty hay bales, wrapped in green plastic, read "Good luck Julie Anne, Tokyo 2021, with you in spirit, Go J.A. go."
Will Andrew, 6, on the vintage milk-delivery wagon his family decorated. (Submitted by Andrew Dairy)
Residents of the local manor gathered to send well-wishes to Staehli, alongside Olympic rings and flags. The rings are hula hoops wrapped in plastic tablecloth. (Submitted by Sepoy Manor)
A home in Lucknow is draped with a sign reading "Go Julie-Anne Go," along with hula hoop Olympic rings. (Wayne McDonagh)
Sadie and Tommy Whitehead, 4 and 3 years old, helped paint this rock for Julie-Anne. (Sarah Menary)
A wood pallet painted with the Canadian flag, Olympic rings and a sign reading "Go Julie-Anne" on the side of the road. (Glen Gibson)
"Enjoy the moment," reads this sign of support at a farm near Lucknow. (Kathy Howard)
A cutout board in Lucknow, Ont., in support of long-distance runner Julie-Anne Staehli. (Natalie Irwin)
A rainbow arches above a home with "Go Julie-Anne Go" in the window. (Robin Lippold)