Commonwealth Games


Penny Oleksiak announces grandmother's death before Commonwealth Games debut

Olympic champion Penny Oleksiak will be competing with a heavy heart at the Commonwealth Games after posting a tweet about the death of her grandmother on Wednesday.

Olympic champion expected to swim in 8 events in Australia

Penny Oleksiak announced the death of her grandmother on the eve of the Commonwealth Games. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Olympic champion Penny Oleksiak will be competing with a heavy heart when she begins her quest for medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Just as the opening ceremony was drawing to a close on Wednesday, the Canadian swimmer announced her grandmother had died.

Oleksiak is expected to swim in eight events at the Commonwealth Games, including three relays.

"I'm just excited to get to the meet, get on some relays and get to be on another relay with Kylie [Masse] and hopefully do well on that [4x100m] medley," Oleksiak said on a conference call last week. "Overall, I think it's going to be a good time."

The 17-year-old Torontonian burst onto the world scene at the 2016 Olympics. Few were aware who Oleksiak was before the Games, but by the time they were over, she had won four medals, including one gold and became a household name in Canada.

But success didn't translate to any individual wins the following season. Hampered by a concussion, Oleksiak failed to reach the podium in any individual events during the 2017 season.

"I think she is still dealing with the unbelievable amount of attention and exhilaration from Rio. It's still happening," says CBC analyst Byron MacDonald. "There are still demands on her time to be Penny Oleksiak and she has had a hard time getting back to the grind of daily training."

With files from Jamie Strashin