Three Semiahmoo Peninsula athletes and one longtime soccer executive are in Jolly Old England this week, wearing the Maple Leaf as they prepare to represent Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Caldwell, 21, will swim the women’s 200-m backstroke at the Summer Olympics, while the 22-year-old Weinberger will swim the 10-km open-water race in London’s Hyde Park.
Joining the swimming pair at the Games, which begin Friday and run until Aug. 12, will be White Rock weightlifter Christine Girard – who is one of Canada’s best hopes for a medal – and former Peace Arch Soccer president Maeve Glass, who will serve as the equipment manager for Canada’s women’s national soccer team.
In 2008, Surrey sent 11 athletes to the Olympic Games in Beijing, while White Rock’s Leon Boyd, who holds dual citizenship, was a pitcher for the Netherland’s baseball team.
Girard, a Quebec native who moved to White Rock four years ago, is the only one of the three athletes with previous Olympic experience, having placed narrowly missed the podium in 2008, finishing fourth overall in Beijing. Glass was also in Beijing with the Canadian soccer program.
If Girard is to make it to the podium in London, it will mark the first time a Canadian woman has won a weightlifting medal at the Olympics.
And her resume certainly suggests a top-three finish is a possibility. Girard, 27, is a Commonwealth and Pan-Am Games champion, and she currently holds Canadian junior and senior records in her weight class. In London, she’ll compete in the 63-kg division, which takes place on July 31.
Last fall, once she’d qualified for the Olympics after a winning turn at senior world championships, Girard told Black Press she had a mix of confidence and nerves with the Summer Olympics on the horizon.
“It’s good to be on a high, but the doubt is always there,” she said. “We always (have) doubt and we are always confident at the same time. It is a good mix of emotions.”
Like Girard, Weinberger also has a shot at an Olympic medal, and though his competition is understandably fierce, he has had success on the Hyde Park swim course before.
Last summer, Weinberger – who punched his ticket to London after winning silver at a 10-km qualifier in Portugal in June – finished first at a test event held on the Olympic 10-km course. Last summer, he added to his medal collection with a win at the Pan-American Games, while also winning silver and bronze on the World Cup circuit.
Weinberger will have to wait until near the end of the Olympics for his chance at the podium – the 10-km open-water swim is scheduled for Aug. 10.
Caldwell will be in the pool Aug. 2 for the 200-m backstroke, with the finals set for the following day.
She qualified for the Olympics earlier this summer, after a silver-medal finish at national team trials in Montreal.
Her time in the 200-m backstroke, two minutes and 9.1 seconds, also set a new B.C. senior provincial record.
For Glass, the Olympic Games are nothing new. Not only did the longtime soccer president serve as Canada’s soccer equipment manager last year, she, as a 16-year-old, was also part of B.C.’s torch relay in the run-up to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
Her mother, Surrey school trustee Pam Glass, was also part of Ireland’s women’s 4×100 relay team at the 1948 Olympics which, coincidentally, were also held in London.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve been an Olympic junkie, so to be going as an accredited staff member is just surreal,” Maeve told Peace Arch News prior to the 2008 Games.
– with files from Gary Ahuja