Canada’s flag bearer for the opening ceremonies at the Rio Olympics will be announced Thursday morning on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
It’s a huge honour for any athlete: they get the chance to carry the flag on Aug. 5, lead the parade of Canadian Olympians entering the stadium and march in front of the whole world.
In 2012, triathlete Simon Whitfield carried Canada’s flag into the London Summer Olympics.
This year, there are lots of deserving candidates. Here’s a look at some of the big contenders:
Gymnast Rosie MacLennan won Canadian hearts with her gold medal-winning trampoline performance in London and her beaming smile on the podium. She took home Canada’s only gold medal of that Olympics. Since then, she’s continued to win medals in world championships and at the Pan Am Games, despite suffering concussions. She remains competitive at the international level and could add to Canada’s medal count this time around.
Mark de Jonge
Mark de Jonge is riding high – and with two world championship gold medals in a row, the sprint kayaker is setting high expectations for a medal in Rio. He’s no stranger to the Olympics either, having captured a bronze medal in London. He also won gold at last summer’s Pan Am Games in Toronto. According to his coach, de Jonge is faster than ever going into this Olympics.
Diver Jennifer Abel was only 16 when she went to her first Olympics in Beijing in 2008. She and her synchronized diving partner got Canada’s first medal – a bronze – at the London Olympics in 2012. Since then, she’s been gathering more hardware, both in synchronized diving and individual events, and finished the 2016 diving circuit tied for second place.
Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane is Canada’s most decorated swimmer of all time. He has a bronze medal from the Beijing Olympics and a silver from London. He has eight medals from the FINA World Championships and two golds from 2015’s Pan Am Games – along with many others from other championships. Suffice it to say that Cochrane is the anchor of Canada’s swim team and is definitely worth watching this Olympics.
Just 18 years old, Brooke Henderson is already one of the world’s top golfers. And now that golf is an Olympic sport again, she’s looking forward to competing in Rio. Henderson is a bit of a phenomenon lately: she won her first women’s PGA tournament in June, and is currently ranked second in the world. She was officially named to the Olympic team earlier this week.
Andre De Grasse
Another young Canadian star, sprinter Andre De Grasse tore up the track at the Pan Am Games in 2015, winning gold in the 100- and 200-metre race in front of an adoring Toronto crowd. He also set a national record: 19.88 seconds in the 200-metre. He won a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2015 and has been doing well this season, his first since turning pro. He and his coaches are focused this year on getting onto the podium in Rio.