Three-time Olympic medallist speed skater Catriona Le May Doan will be joining Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018, not on the ice, but in the role of Lead Athlete Mentor.
In the newly created position, Le May Doan will be the bridge between Chef de Mission Isabelle Charest and the team of athletes who will represent Canada in South Korea next February.
“It’s been something that’s been on my mind since the day I retired,” Le May Doan said of the chance to return to the Olympic team after attending five Games as a member of the media over the last 14 years. “I wanted to come back and to be able to be with the athletes, be able to help them deal with the good and the bad, be able to help them be at their best at Games-time and so I’m excited.”
She is also thrilled to get the chance to work side by side with fellow speed skater Charest as the leaders of the next Canadian Olympic Team. Although long track and short track operated quite independently of each other while they were competing, they were teammates at three Olympic Games.
“I’m kinda coming in brand new and I’m able to learn from her, but most of all I just want to help the athletes in whatever way so when they get to Games they have the performance of their life, that they’re satisfied with everything they’ve been able to do performance-wise within the environment,” said Le May Doan, who will also be a bridge to the team of athlete mentors embedded with Team Canada.
Le May Doan knows a thing or two about producing the best performance possible, having dominated long track’s sprint events in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
A four-time Olympian, she was the first Canadian athlete to ever successfully defend an Olympic gold medal in an individual event, winning back-to-back gold medals in the 500m at Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002. She held the 500m world record for almost a decade and only saw her 500m Olympic record broken at Sochi 2014.
She was introduced in her new role on Thursday to more than 100 Olympic hopefuls attending Olympic Lab in Calgary, a weekend of pre-Games seminars, which gave her a chance to see the team camaraderie already in place.
“The athletes are motivated. They have some of the best coaches, some of the best programs, they get that stuff. But then how do you take the whole thing and raise it up a notch once you get to the Olympics and the ultimate pressure position?” Le May Doan reflected. “The support is real and this team is real. That’s what I am just so impressed to see that that has become the reality.”