The 2012 London Olympic Games are fast approaching. Starting July 27th, millions will gather to watch athletes from countries around the world compete against each other for the glory of the gold, silver and bronze. It is easy for most people to get caught up in the hype, because Olympic updates will be everywhere, but for others it can be a lot to follow, as the whole thing can sometimes feel so far away. In an effort to bring the experience a little closer to home, I looked into how many Mustangs and Londoners were competing at this year’s Olympic Games, and I was very pleased to find 6.
Obviously there are many awesome Canadian Olympians competing this year, and we’ll be cheering for all of them, but these current and graduated Mustangs bleed purple; and in many, if not all cases, these London locals have trained alongside them, and that is something I know many of us can get psyched about. These people have all spilled beer at The Ceeps, been held up by the Richmond and Oxford train crossing and wondered why London Transit doesn’t run after midnight. They’re each one of us, so let’s get to know them a little better… Speaking of which, you can join some of them at a sendoff going down on Monday in London, On by RSVPing here.
1 - Joe Bartoch (London, On) - 100m butterfly
Joe is a graduate student at Western, and having qualified for the Games the Canadian trials in Montreal for the 100m butterfly, this will be his second trip to the Olympics as he was part of the 4x100m medlay team that came in 10th and personally finished 34th in the 100m butterfly at 2008 Beijing Games. The 29 year old also recently improved his personal world ranking by finishing 21st in the 100m butterly at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai. You can Tweet your support to Joe at @TeamBartoch.
2 - Richard Hortness (Medicine Hat, Alta.) - 4X100m freestyle relay
Richard is the Western University swim team’s assistant coach, and is also making his second trip to the Olympic games, having finished 27th in the 50m frestyle event in Beijing. He’s also made some improvements since 2008, placing 14th in both the 50m and 100m freestyle events at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. You can Tweet your support to Richard at @HortnessSwims.
Canada is sending its largest swim team ever to the games since 2000, at 31 members strong, and of those 31 there are 17 that either attend a CIS competing school, or graduated from one (Western Mustangs). See the full list here (scroll down).
3 - Alexandra Bruce (Toronto, On) – badminton (doubles)
Alexandra competed for 2 years as a Mustang while she was a civil engineering student at Western University, but took time off to put even more effort into her badminton career, and it certainly paid off. She will be competing at the games with her partner, Michelle Li (Markham, On). These two are a pair to follow closely, as they took gold at the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico (Western Mustangs). You can Tweet your support to Bruce at @alexbrucie.
4 – Damian Warner (London, On) – decathlon
At the end of June, Western University sent 14 athletes, the most in its history, to the Canadian Olympic Trials. Of the 14 athletes 5 made the podium. To move on to the Olympic Games an athlete has to both make the official Olympic standard in their event and make the podium at the trials. Damian Warner has done both, finishing with a gold medal at the trials, however I’ve misled you to believe that he’s on this list because he’s a Mustang, when really he went to Fanshawe. Damian is well known within the London track community, and is coached by Western’s Vickey Croley and Dave Collins. Damian will be a very promising athlete to watch at this year’s games, as so much can happen in the decathlon and he has a real shot at doing something amazing.
Nike unveiled Canada’s new track and field uniforms this week, and you can see them here.
5 – Jessica Zelinka (London, On) - heptathlon, 100m hurdles
Having competed at the international level for over a decade, London, Ontario’s Jessica Zelinka is no stranger to the many pressures of high level competition, and she has continued to excel over her career. She became the Canadian heptathlon record holder in 2007 with 6343 points with a gold medal at the Pan Am games; she finished 6th in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which was the best place finish for a Canadian woman in a multi-events sport at the Olympics, with another Canadian heptathlon record of 6490 points; she won a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth games, soon after giving birth to her first child in 2009 and while battling the “Delhi Belly” that plagued many competitors that year; and most recently she set a new Canadian record for the heptathlon at the Canadian Olympic Trials, where she also qualified for the 100m hurdles (Wikipedia).
Jessica has certainly had a long and successful career, she is looking stronger than ever and we look forward to seeing her go for the gold this year! You can Tweet your support to Jessica at @JessicaZelinka.
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