Any Canadian athlete that dons the maple leaf also dreams of standing on the Olympic podium with the Canadian flag draped across their back.

Inching closer to Rio 2016, highlighted by the recent unveiling of Team Canada’s Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic collection, as well as the Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials, it’s time to look into Canada’s rich history at the summer Olympic Games and check out some of its most decorated summer athletes.

The Five Medals Club

Lesley Thompson-Willie

Rowing (1 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze)

Lesley Thompson-Willie is the legendary coxswain of the Canadian women’s eight rowing team. She is an eight-time Olympian (1980-2000, 2008-12) and five-time Olympic medallist, starting with coxed fours silver at Los Angeles 1984 and most recently coxed eight silver at London 2012. Having guided the women’s eight to gold at Barcelona 1992, Thompson-Willie looks to add to her illustrious medal collection at Rio 2016. Outside of the Olympic Games, Thompson-Willie has competed at 18 world championships, winning 10 medals (1 Gold, 4 Silver, 5 Bronze).

Related: Zeeman golden as Canada collects four World Rowing Cup I medals

Phil Edwards

Athletics (5 Bronze)

Edwards, Philip

Phil Edwards (middle with maple leaf) at Los Angeles 1932.

Known as the “Man of Bronze” for his five bronze medals at the Olympic Games, Phil Edwards represented Canada on the highest level in every way. He won bronze at Amsterdam 1928 (4x400m relay), Los Angeles 1932 (800m, 1500m, 4x400m relay) and Berlin 1936 (800m). He was the first recipient of the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s top athlete in 1936, was the first black athlete to win gold at the British Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games) and set 13 national records during his athletic career. Edwards served as captain with the Canadian Army in World War II and went on to become a leading physician and tropical disease expert. Shortly after his death in 1971, the “Phil Edwards Memorial Trophy” was established to be presented annually to Canada’s most outstanding track athlete by Athletics Canada.


 The Four Medals Club

Kathleen Heddle & Marnie McBean

Rowing (3 Gold, 1 Bronze)

McBean, Marnie | Heddle, Kathleen

As one of Canada’s most successful pairings, Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean are the first Canadian athletes to win Olympic gold three times. At Barcelona 1992 the duo won their first two gold medals in the coxed eight and coxless pair. They went on to win gold again in the double sculls along with a bronze medal in the quadruple sculls at Atlanta 1996. Both went on to be awarded the Thomas Keller medal by the World Rowing Federation, recognizing them for their accomplishments and sportsmanship throughout their careers.

Victor Davis

Swimming (1 Gold, 3 Silver)

One of Canada’s most prominent international swimming stars, Victor Davis has won more Olympic medals than any other swimmer in Canadian history. The phenom captured gold in the 200m breaststroke along with a pair of silver medals in the 100m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay at Los Angeles 1984. He then went on to win silver in the 4x100m medley relay at Seoul 1988 and placed 4th in the 100m breaststroke, falling just shy of capturing a fifth medal. Davis was tragically killed at the the young age of 25 but during his short time captured 31 national titles, broke three world records and won 16 medals in international competition. He was named Swimming Canada’s athlete of the year on three occasions (1982, 1984, 1986) and is remembered as Canada’s greatest breaststroke swimmer.

Adam van Koeverden

Canoe/Kayak – Sprint (1 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze)

Adam van Koeverden became Canada’s first double medallist at the summer Olympic Games since Atlanta 1996 when he captured gold in the K-1 500m and bronze in the K-1 1000m at Athens 2004. He then went on to compete at Beijing 2008, where he won silver in the K-1 500m, as well as London 2012 in which he won silver in the K-1 1000m. van Koeverden proudly carried the flag in the Closing Ceremony in Athens and was honoured to be the Opening Ceremony flag bearer four years later in Beijing. He recently won bronze at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and is an eight-time world championship medallist (2 Gold, 3 silver, 3 Bronze).

Émilie Heymans

Diving (2 Silver, 2 Bronze)

As both a four-time Olympian and four-time Olympic medallist, Émilie Heymans is also Canada’s first athlete to win a medal in four straight summer Olympic Games. She won silver in the synchronized 10m platform (Sydney 2000), bronze in the synchronized 10m platform (Athens 2004), silver in the 10m platform (Beijing 2008) and bronze in the synchronized 3m springboard (London 2012), making her the first female diver in history to reach the podium in four straight Games. She nearly captured a fifth medal at Athens 2004, where she placed fourth in the 10m platform.  Heymans is also a six-time Pan American Games medallist (5 Gold, 2 Silver) and a four-time Commonwealth Games medallist (1 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze).

Alex Wilson

Athletics (1 Silver, 3 Bronze)

Canada's men's relay team participates at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. (CP Photo/COC) L'équipe du relais du Canada participe aux Jeux olympiques de Amsterdam de 1928. (PC Photo/AOC)

Canada’s men’s relay team (L-R) Alex Wilson, Stan Glover, Phil Edwards and Jimmy Ball at the Amsterdam 1928 Olympic Games. 

Alex Wilson first represented Canada at the Olympic Games at Amsterdam 1928, where he won bronze as a member of the 4x400m relay team. He then went on to compete at Los Angeles 1932 in which he captured silver in the 800m, as well as a pair of bronze medals in the 400m and 4x400m relay. At the 1930 British Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games), Wilson also showed off his exceptional talents in winning gold in the 440 yards, silver in the 4×440 yards relay and bronze in the 880 yards. Wilson was also a NCAA national champion in the 400m for the University of Notre Dame and later went on to coach for the University, leading his athletes to four NCAA national championships.

Related: Canadian Roundup: Medals, hardware and a world-leading time


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