Family, friends and complete strangers were on hand at the Edmonton International Airport Tuesday morning to meet Olympic women’s soccer bronze medallist Stephanie Labbé as she arrived home from the Rio Summer Games.
“It’s pretty overwhelming, exciting,” the 29-year-old Team Canada goalkeeper said. “Coming home, just to be able to share this experience with them. Unfortunately they weren’t able to be there, it’s a long trip away, but my parents and brother were there for some of it.”
The Canadian women captured bronze for the second Olympics in a row, beating hosts Brazil 2-1 in their own backyard.
“Going in we knew that it’s been over 100 years – I think it was 1908 – since the last team was on the podium twice in a row so for us, we knew that that was something that we really wanted to achieve,” Labbé said.
Watch below: Stephanie Labbe is home from her third Olympics, but the games in Rio were a lot different than her first two visits. This time the 29-year-old women’s soccer player was off the bench and in net for every single game. Laurel Gregory had a chance to catch up with the bronze medallist.
While the Spruce Grove native admits losing in the semifinal to Germany was tough, she’s pleased with the team’s outcome in Rio.
“We were going in as underdogs. We were ranked number 10 in the world and we’re going in playing against number five and number two in our group, never mind outside of our group,” she said. “We had a tough draw and we knew that but we were very confident that we could come out with the win and we were able to show that this year, that we’re a much better team than what our ranking is,” she said.
“We rallied back and knew we wanted to be on the podium so the bronze is feeling pretty good right now.”
One of the big highlights from the Summer Games was the first match against Australia. Labbé said she didn’t expect the team to go up 1-0 20 seconds into the game.
“I think just the resilience that the team showed in that game was pretty incredible and I think that that’s when we really kind of marked our place in the tournament and really showed that we can do this.”
And while overwhelming at times, Labbé said she enjoyed every minute of the Rio Olympics and made sure to stop and enjoy and experience.
“Every day I was making sure I took time to make sure that I was present and really breathing in the air where I was and enjoying the process along the way.”
Labbé attended Spruce Grove Composite High School where she played soccer throughout her high school years. She graduated high school in 2004. Her prom date was former Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens.