Joannie Rochette holds a stethoscope over her shoulders, posing for a photo in her white doctor's coat.Credit: McGill University
Credit: McGill University

Team Canada athletes working on the coronavirus frontlines



“Trust your training” is an oft-used phrase in an athlete’s mental preparation before a big competition.

For some Team Canada athletes, this quote has even more special meaning at the moment as they have traded their sports equipment for personal protective equipment and joined the frontlines in this big fight against COVID-19.

Joannie Rochette

The Vancouver 2010 bronze medallist received her medical degree from McGill University on Friday April 24 and the following day filed her application to work in a long-term care facility. The figure skater completed her last university internship in geriatrics and her temporary role is important to her because her mother Therese, who died just a few days before Rochette’s Olympic competition began, also worked in a long-term care home.

Heather MacLean

MacLean represented Team Canada in the pool at London 2012 and now works at Mount Sinai Hospital in the in high-risk deliveries and fetal procedures unit. In an interview with CBC, the former swimmer said that the stress she feels when she goes to work during the pandemic is a lot like the stress of an Olympic year. Anxiety, insomnia, and fear of uncertainty are all old friends who have come back in her life these days.

Michelle Toro (Williams)

Toro won an Olympic bronze medal with the 4x100m freestyle relay team at Rio 2016 . Today she is a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She reuses many of her focus techniques from swimming at the hospital, which helps her do a better job and manage the stress related to the COVID-19 crisis.

Hayley Wickenheiser

A Hockey Hall of Famer and five-time Olympic medallist with Team Canada, Wickenheiser is in her final year of medical school. Even if she cannot act as a doctor at the moment, the Canadian has used her voice and popularity (and that of Ryan Reynolds) to help support frontline workers with her Conquer COVID-19 project and PPE drive.

Maryse Turcotte

Maryse Turcotte poses in front of the Saint-Croix Hospital in Drummondville

Maryse Turcotte poses in front of the Saint-Croix Hospital in Drummondville in Spring 2020. (Credit: Martin Chamberland / La Presse)

Turcotte finished fourth at Sydney 2000, but also represented Team Canada four years later at Athens 2004. After retiring, the Quebec native turned to medicine. Today, she is responsible for the mental health of seniors as a gerontopsychiatrist at the Sainte-Croix Hospital in Drummondville. Given the plight of seniors in the province of Quebec during the pandemic, the weightlifter is all the more touched and passionate about her vocation.

Susan O’Connor

(Left) Susan O'Connor competes at Vancouver 2010. (Right) Her daily life at a Calgary Hospital.

(Left) Susan O’Connor competes at Vancouver 2010. (Right) Her daily life at a Calgary Hospital. (Credit: Curling Canada).

O’Connor won Olympic silver with Cheryl Bernard’s team at Vancouver 2010. For the past two decades, the curler has also been a respiratory therapist in Calgary and works closely with COVID-19. She recently wrote a blog for Curling Canada describing what it’s like to work on the frontlines during a pandemic.

Frédérique Lambert

Lambert represented Canada in racquetball at the Pan American Games in 2011, 2015 and 2019. She is also a graduate of the Université de Montreal medical school and has joined those battling the pandemic.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

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Yes, it’s me in this picture but this is not about me. This is about all the people who have been on the frontlines since day one of this pandemic. Now more than ever we need to work as a team and help where the help is needed. We all must come together and do what is best for society, even if that means stepping out of our comfort zone and learning new things. Thank you to the community of health care workers who welcomed me with open arms and trained me at the Long Term Care Home, some even coming out of retirement to give a helping hand. Thank you Elisa for the PPE training. Thank you Hélène for the elderly mobilisation training. Thank you Jean-Philippe for your help during my first shift as an orderly. Thank you Guylaine for the crash course on how to administer medication to patients. I accepted this opportunity with a lot of pride and humility. I will contribute to the best of my abilities to help: help put a smile on a patient’s face, help give a day off to nurses and orderlies who have been working countless hours since this pandemic started. We can all do our part and it's touching to see so many people of different professional backgrounds coming together to do what they can. We have to keep working as a team and we will get through this. Ça va bien aller 🌈

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Two months ago, Duvernay-Tardif won the Super Bowl and today the medical graduate from McGill University works in a long-term care facility. The NFL champion is among the 11,000 people who responded to the Quebec Premier’s call to fill the urgent shortage of staff in retirement homes.

Mikey Ray

Former Canadian skateboard champion Mikey Ray is on the front lines with responders and doctors working hard to treat people infected with coronavirus.

Kim Clavel

The boxer, a NABF flyweight champion, has returned to her first career to lend a hand to the Quebec health system. Clavel, who was to defend her title on March 21 but saw her fight cancelled due to the pandemic, is now working in a long-term care home as a nurse.

There are also Team Canada athletes who have not yet completed medical school, but it is only a matter of time before they too join the fight.

Maxime Dufour-Lapointe

The eldest of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters embarked on her medical studies after retiring from freestyle skiing in the summer of 2018. While she is still working towards her medical degree, Maxime has also been sharing some of her medical knowledge and learnings from her years on the national moguls team on social media to help people navigate through the pandemic.

Maïté Bouchard

After representing Team Canada at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, Bouchard’s goal is to be on the start line at Tokyo 2020. With the postponement of the Games, the Quebecer is pursuing her medical studies at Sherbrooke University.

Jennifer Fratesi

Being part of a team is no shock to Jennifer Fratesi, who represented Team Canada in the pool at Athens 2004. Earning her medical degree from the University of Waterloo, Fratesi now works on the front lines at the University Health Network in Toronto monitoring those with the virus.

Fratesi, a backstroke specialist, told Swim Ontario that her success, work ethic and passion to help others is because of the lessons she learned in the pool.

Anastasiya Muntyanu

Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations is a familiar feeling for retired rhythmic gymnast Anastasiya Muntyanu, a London 2012 Olympian and MD at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. In an interview with CBC, Muntyanu says she has used her experiences as a rhythmic gymnast and applied it to her medical practices. Muntyanu says being on a medical team is like being on gymnastics team—by trusting those on her team, she says she feels safe and can do her job to help others.