Team Canada and Sportsnet have teamed up to launch a six-part digital series, Athlete2Athlete.
The ten-minute webisodes will feature high performance athletes talking to each other about sport and the world around us. Introduced by Arash Madani, the series gives athletes a space to discuss how Canadians can unite and inspire others during trying times.
Among the timely topics discussed are LGBTQ+, COVID-19, anti-Black racism, mental health and more. You can look forward hearing from to some Canadian legends such as Mark Tewksbury, Rosie MacLennan, Donovan Bailey, Kia Nurse, Stephanie Labbé, and Max Parrot, just to name a few.
Webisode 3: Mark Tewksbury, Markus Thormeyer and Annie Guglia
In the third episode of the series, Olympic champion Mark Tewksbury, Rio 2016 swimmer Markus Thormeyer and skateboarding Olympic hopeful Annie Guglia talk about their experiences as LGBTQ+ athletes. At the top of their conversation, Tewksbury expresses his joy about how both Guglia and Thormeyer have been able to come out to their teammates and communities and be their authentic selves.
With celebration of Pride month being different this year, Thormeyer and Guglia took advantage of the time they had to listen and learn more about the positive impact of the Black community on the LGBTQ+ community.
“There’s usually a parade and stuff. I think in replacement of that, I have been educating myself on how the Black community has helped shaped the LGBTQ+ culture; and also, how they have contributed to gay rights,” said Thormeyer. “I think that through education anyone can just become a better ally for the community and my fellow community members.”
The three reflect on the empathy that they can give the Black community as they know what it can feel like to be marginalized and isolated. Tewksbury says that even though the three may not understand what the Black community goes through, they can be allies and help amplify the voices for others in support.
Webisode 2: Miah-Marie Langlois and Kia Nurse
In the second webisode of the series, Team Canada basketball stars Nurse and Langlois discuss the recent anti-Black racism protests as the Rio 2016 Olympians try to make sense of events that transpired after the death of George Floyd. The two talk through how they are feeling and what needs to change to make the world – and sports – an inclusive space for everyone.
“How do you break the system, how do you abolish the system […] You can’t erase history, you can’t take it back, you have to teach it, people need to see it, people need to know it and understand it — so that if my kids went up to someone one day and said, ‘Do you know who Rosa Parks is?’ I hope that their white allies know who Rosa Parks is,” said Nurse.
Nurse and Langlois talk about the importance of accessibility within sport, so that no matter someone’s background, they have the opportunity to participate. Both Langlois and Nurse explain how basketball helped them meet people from a variety of backgrounds. They say being able to work with different players of different lifestyles, ethnicities and others who don’t look like them taught them not only to work together to achieve the same athletic aspirations and goals, but to also better understand, learn and appreciate one another.
Webisode 1: Stephanie Labbé and Rosie MacLennan
Kicking off the series are two-time Olympic champion MacLennan and Olympic bronze medallist Labbé, who discuss training at home in a COVID-19 world— MacLennan without a trampoline at her disposal, Labbé practicing without soccer balls— and the adaptations the Olympic athletes have made.
Despite their unusual training environments, they both agree that it’s important to focus on the aspects they can control and scheduling time for themselves to stay grounded. Labbé talked about the importance of doing meditation every day for her and her partner, track cyclist Georgia Simmerling.
“Georgia and I, probably for about two weeks after the initial decision [to not go to the Olympics] started feeling the weight of it and the emotions on it—both of us had plans on retiring after this year—and you start asking all these questions and thinking about the ‘what ifs’ and [it] snowballs,” said Labbé. “It kind of takes you outside of your body and your head can go on with these thoughts for so long. So, I think meditation definitely grounds us and kind of brings us back to the present moment.”