So far in Rio, Canada’s women are ruling the nation’s medal count like never before.
Team Canada has achieved general podium parity in the past two decades, with exactly half of medals coming in women’s events in four of the past five Summer Games. But through Day 8 in Rio, it’s been completely lopsided, with all 12 of Canada’s medals coming courtesy of female competitors.
It came to Day 9 before a male Team Canada member made the podium, when Andre De Grasse sprinted to 100 metre bronze.
That’s especially remarkable given that only twice in history have the majority of Canada’s medals at a summer Olympic Games been won in women’s events.
And on both those prior occasions, it came down to big performances in the pool.
At Mexico City 1968, Canada won five medals overall, with swimmer Elaine Tanner collecting three—silvers in the 100m and 200m backstroke, and bronze as part of the 4×100 freestyle relay team (with Angela Coughlan, Marilyn Corson and Marion Lay).
At Montreal 1976, seven of Canada’s 11 overall medals came from female swimmers. Nancy Garapick claimed a pair, while Cheryl Gibson, Becky Smith and Shannon Smith also won individual medals. Canada also medalled in the 4×100 freestyle and 4×100 medley relay events.
Fast forward to Rio 2016, and the story sounds much the same.
By now, everyone in Canada knows the story of Penny Oleksiak, who’s won a gold (100m freestyle), a silver (100m butterfly) and two bronzes (4×100 freestyle relay and 4×200 freestyle relay) in her first Olympic Games.
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There’s still over a week of competition left to go, with Canada having a shot at medals in various events on both the women’s and men’s sides, so it’s too early to make any guarantees about the final medal breakdown.
But the early returns from Swimming Canada sure make it look like history will be repeating itself for Canadian women in Rio.