Alena Sharp wants to get the most out of her Olympic experience.
Even though the Canadian Women’s Open begins August 25 in Calgary, Sharp plans on staying in Rio to watch the Closing Ceremony, which takes place August 21.
“That’s important to me,” Sharp said on Tuesday at Oakville, Ontario’s Glen Abbey Golf Club. “Four years from now, who knows where I’ll be. I’m going to be close to 40 so I’m taking my opportunity now to experience it to the fullest.”
Sharp, and all golfers, have waited a long time to see the sport return to the Olympic Games. Golf hasn’t been included in the Olympics since St. Louis 1904 when Canadian George Lyon won gold in the men’s individual event.
Sharp was one of four athletes named to Team Canada’s Rio 2016 golf team on Tuesday. She’ll join 18-year-old Brooke Henderson in the women’s tournament, which will take place August 17-20 at Rio’s Olympic Golf Course.
“We’re really good friends,” Sharp said about her relationship with Henderson. “I met her a couple of years ago and we play a lot of practice rounds together. She asks me questions if she has them about tournaments. It’s nice to play with her. She’s younger and she’s fearless and I think that helps me play a little bit more fearless golf. She’s a very positive person and it’s always nice to be around positive people.”
Henderson, seeded second in the final Olympic golf rankings, is the headliner of Canada’s golf team. When she won the Women’s LPGA Championship in June, Sharp was there to celebrate with her, spraying Henderson with bottles of beverages.
“It was amazing to be right there and see it happen,” said Sharp.
The 35-year-old Sharp has been on the LPGA Tour since 2005. She’s had strong 2015 and 2016 seasons, which helped secure her spot in Rio. She had her best career finish at a major tournament earlier this month, finishing 21st at the US Women’s Open.
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“For me to have played well in the last year to get on to the team… it’s a huge accomplishment and I’m very proud to say that I’m going to Rio.
“I want to go to venues and watch (the other athletes) compete and be a part of Team Canada – not just be at the golf course all day. I want to be part of the team and really be the proud Canadian competitor down there, cheering on the other athletes.”