“Beyond my wildest dreams.”
That’s how Rosie MacLennan described being named the flag bearer for Canada to the Olympic Games at Rio 2016. The trampoline gold medallist from London 2012 knows a thing or two about dreams coming true.
At the North Greenwich Arena (commonly known as O2 Arena) in the English capital four years ago MacLennan took on the world, and more specifically, the dominant Chinese gymnasts in trampoline, and won to secure Canada’s lone Olympic gold medal in London. That accomplishment put her on the shortlist for flag bearer before it was a matter of waiting to learn.
“It was an early morning (phone) call, so I thought it was for drug testing,” a smiling MacLennan recalled the moment when she was given the good news.
“I don’t think it really hit me until I got off the phone. It was very, very exciting and I was home alone so I was just very giddy by myself in my apartment.”
She won’t be alone when she leads the parade of Canadian athletes into the world-renowned Maracana Stadium on August 5. Team Canada will be more than 300 Olympians strong in Brazil, with most of the athletes taking part in the Opening Ceremony.
“I think leading the entire team out into the field is going to be exciting,” MacLennan said, having experienced it twice behind Opening Ceremony flag bearers previously in Beijing and London.
“Every moment right before we hit that tunnel is special. That’s the first time the entire Canadian team is together, and it’s such a special bond that you have and you feel so much pride, I don’t think I’ll be able to wipe the smile off my face.”
In a truly Canadian fashion, MacLennan was an underdog who punched above her weight on the international scene in London, improving on her seventh place finish in Beijing to become Olympic champion.
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The role of returning Olympic gold-medallist comes with great pressure, which MacLennan acknowledges, and in a show of newfound Canadian confidence in sport – the recent trend of Canadians no longer “just happy to be there” – she won’t be resting on reputation, rather getting right to work to produce results.
“It can be a little bit stressful at times, but long time ago my coach and I sat down and really thought about what it meant and how we want to approach it.”
“I’m really proud of what I accomplished in London, and I get really excited by it, but Rio is a whole new competition, sixteen girls are going out there and all fighting for the same top spot on the podium. I don’t really want to go in as ‘defending champion’ necessarily, because then it feels like you have something to lose and I really don’t feel I do.”
The Opening Ceremony to the first ever Olympic Games in South America will take place on August 5. Trampoline events are from August 12 to 13, with men competing on the first day, women on the second.
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Canada won 18 medals in London with the single gold in trampoline. With the work that’s gone on across the board in Canadian sport the last four years, and MacLennan leading the team into Maracana, Canadians will hope for even rosier results in Rio.