Canada welcomes Olympians home after Tokyo Games with outdoor celebration – .

Canada welcomes Olympians home after Tokyo Games with outdoor celebration – .

TORONTO – Team Canada athletes are welcomed home now that the torch for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been extinguished.

The athletes spent more than two weeks competing in Japan, while overcoming many obstacles to win the country’s most medal count in the un-boycotted Games.

Team Canada collected 24 medals, including seven gold, and placed 11th overall. This is only behind the boycotted Los Angeles 1984 Games (10 gold medals, 44 in total).

The Canadian Olympic Committee hosted a homecoming event Thursday in Toronto for some of the athletes who are ready to spend the next moment with their families, basking in the glow of their accomplishments.

Tokyo 2020 decathlon gold medal champion Damian Warner, who was honored to carry the Canadian flag at the Games’ closing ceremony, said while he hadn’t slept too much since his return flight a few days ago, his victory has always been “brilliant” and he is delighted to share it with his loved ones.

“It was one of those things that we were gone for 25 days, I think. We have a little boy now so it was a long time away from my family and a long time away from the people who supported me and helped me get to the games in the first place, so it was really nice to come home and share that time with them, ”Warner said.

Thinking of the gold medal hanging from his neck, Warner said he looked at other athletes like Donovan Bailey, and it was these athletes who gave him the inspiration to become an Olympian.

“My mom, when I was younger, told me you could do whatever you wanted and I set my sights on the decathlon and the Olympics,” he said. “It’s one of those things that’s really special when you finally achieve something that you set out to do. “

The 31-year-old said he had high school coaches – who are still his coaches to this day – who encouraged him to do decathlon as a teenager. From then on, Warner had chosen his future.

“I didn’t know what (a decathlon) was back then, but I trusted them and it led me to some great places,” he said.

Trampolinist and two-time Olympic gymnastics champion Rosie MacLennan says she was able to spend time with her family, which has been a long time since she hasn’t seen them for “a while” due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

“Being able to attend an event like this and feel so much joy and have so much fun with all the other athletes and everyone hosting us at home has been really good,” MacLennan said, noting that her husband would join her at the Outdoor Driving Celebration held at Sherway Gardens.

MacLennan had previously treated an injured ankle and pushed out to travel to Tokyo. The 32-year-old managed to place fourth, just ahead of the podium.

“Obviously the preparation in Tokyo was a little different from what I had hoped for,” she said. “I have been incredibly lucky to have so much support, both physical and mental, from my mental performance coach. But it was really nice to be able to come back, take a step back, just have a little time to recover, to recover, to spend time with my family, so it was really great. “

Kayla Sanchez, a two-time silver and bronze medalist, said she had been back in Canada for 10 days and had plenty of time to catch up on her sleep and spend time with friends and family.

The 20-year-old swimmer said being back on Canadian soil was “quite surreal” for her, noting that she was “at a loss for words” when she finally learned that she and her teammates had won. the silver medal in the women’s 4x100m freestyle, kicking off the Olympics with a medal and a podium place for Canada.

“When you’re in Tokyo,… you didn’t really realize the impact until you got home and it was pretty fun,” she said. “I love the support and that makes the sport really fun. “

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanchez said she was out of the pool for about four months.

“I actually missed swimming. I was running five miles, like oh my god I need the pools to open like right now, ”she said. “When I swim I just know it’s something I’m supposed to do. “

Warner said he is already eyeing the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, while keeping an eye on being world champion and the fastest man in the world.

“Obviously the gold medal in the decathlon was the biggest thing I ever wanted to achieve, but the world record is also up there. I think I’m capable of breaking the world record in the decathlon, but it would also be really cool to go back and defend that title in 2024, ”he said. “There are still some really big dreams and things that I think I can achieve in this sport and I look forward to them. “

Likewise, Sanchez said she is already heading to the next Olympics, but is currently preparing to jump on a plane to Naples, Italy, to swim in the International Swimming League.

For MacLennan, the plan is to focus on fully recovering from his ankle injury while enjoying the rest of the summer spending time with his family.

“I always try to process a game before making plans, so that’s really what I’m trying to do right now,” she said.


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