Hockey captain Poulin, speed skater Hamelin to carry Canadian flag into Beijing Olympics
Multiple-time gold medallists will lead Canada in opening ceremony
A pair of Olympic legends will lead Canada into the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
The Canadian Olympic Committee announced on Wednesday that women's hockey captain Marie-Philip Poulin and men's speed skater Charles Hamelin would be Canada's flag-bearers for the opening ceremony on Friday.
"Being named flag-bearer, I feel like I need to pinch myself. I've been able to watch Charles over the last couple of decades and watching him succeed, I will be very honoured to be walking beside Charles, carrying the flag," Poulin said.
Hamelin said being part of Team Canada feels like family.
"Going into my fifth Olympic Games, it is really incredible. For me, that family is one of the biggest reasons why I'm still here and why I love what I do. Every time I would walk into an opening ceremony, I would look at the flag-bearer as a role model. To be named flag-bearer is something I can now check off my to-do list."
The event will be broadcast live on CBC-TV and CBC News Network, beginning with the pre-show at 6:30 a.m. ET. Full coverage will be streamed on CBC Gem and the CBC Olympic website.
WATCH | Poulin, Hamelin named as flag-bearers:
Poulin, 30, will be competing at her fourth Olympics in search of her third gold medal in Beijing.
The Beauceville, Que., native scored both goals in the Canadians' 2-0 gold-medal win over the U.S. at Vancouver 2010, then followed it up with the late equalizer and golden goal in Canada's comeback victory over its archrivals in the final of the Sochi 2014 tournament.
But Poulin and the rest of Team Canada were forced to settle for silver after a shootout loss in the gold-medal game four years ago in Pyeongchang.
Now, after Poulin scored yet another overtime winner to clinch the 2021 world championships for Canada in August, the team will try to firmly re-establish its place atop the women's hockey hierarchy in Beijing.
"It would mean the world," Poulin told CBC Sports recently. "Canada holds hockey players to a high standard. We want to be the best hockey country."
WATCH | Poulin clinches 2021 worlds for Canada:
Poulin's quest for more gold begins before the opening ceremony, when Canada takes on Switzerland on Wednesday at 11:10 p.m. ET. The bronze-medal game will be played on Feb. 16, with the final one day later.
Hamelin chasing history
For the 37-year-old Hamelin, Beijing will represent his fifth and likely final Olympics.
The short-track speed skater from Sainte-Julie, Que., has won five career Olympic medals dating back to his 2006 debut. If he adds one more in China, he'd tie Cindy Klassen as Canada's most decorated winter Olympian and match Andre De Grasse as the country's most decorated male Olympian. Two more medals would put Hamelin next to swimmer Penny Oleksiak for most Olympic medals won by a Canadian.
Hamelin never left empty-handed at any of his previous four Olympics. Three of his five medals are gold.
In Beijing, Hamelin will compete in the men's 1,500 metres (Feb. 9) and is also eligible to take part in the mixed team relay (Feb. 5) and men's 5,000m relay (final on Feb. 16).
WATCH | Hamelin ready for yet another Olympics:
Poulin and Hamelin are the second set of athletes from different sports to earn flag-bearer honours together after the International Olympic Committee made an amendment last March to allow each country to designate one male and one female.
Basketball player Miranda Ayim and rugby sevens star Nathan Hirayama shared the duty for the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020. Legendary Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were the country's flag-bearers to open the Pyeongchang Olympics four years ago.
The opening ceremony in Beijing was recently reduced in length to around 100 minutes due to COVID-19 and cold weather concerns. International spectators have been barred from all events at these Olympics, with only select domestic groups allowed to attend.
Canada is among nine countries, also including the U.S. and Australia, implementing a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics over alleged human-rights abuses against ethnic minorities in China. That means there will be no Canadian political representation at the opening ceremony at Beijing's National Stadium.
CBC is offering multiple live streams of the event, including those with commentary in East Cree, dedicated Descriptive Video, and American Sign Language. If you miss the event, CBC-TV will air an encore broadcast at 8 p.m. ET.