Marnie McBean is ready to inject some confidence into Canada’s Olympic team.
McBean was named Canada’s chef de mission for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games on Monday as part of the Canada Day festivities at Parliament Hill. A three-time Olympic medalist in rowing, McBean wants to make sure her team is bold in the field of play.
“Canadians used to be uncomfortable declaring their confidence on the world stage, and it showed in our performance – we were putting our goals in chalk instead of stone,” said the Toronto rower, who won at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. “Without arrogance, now Canadians bravely project readiness and our ambitions indelibly in stone.
“To find that courage, the message I share with elite athletes, school kids and corporations, is that there are no superheroes out there. It’s ordinary people like us, like you, who achieve incredible things.”
McBean represented Canada from 1987 to 2000, winning a total of 12 world and Olympic medals. An officer of the Order of Canada, McBean was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1994 and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Recently, McBean has worked with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), helping with athlete preparation and mentoring. She sees her new role as chef de mission as an extension of that, including creating a safe and welcoming environment for Canadian athletes to speak openly about their passions outside sport.
“It is our role as the mission team to do everything we can so that when an athlete’s Olympic competition begins they are in peak condition,” McBean said. “Athletes shouldn’t arrive to their field of play exhausted and stressed from trying to negotiate social and cultural barriers.”
COC president Tricia Smith, a four-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist in rowing, said she is delighted for her fellow Rowing Canada alumna.
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Marnie over the years and have always been amazed by her accomplishments. She is an incredible individual,” Smith said. “Since her own sport success, she has been an inspiration and mentor for many of Canada’s athletes, helping them succeed even beyond the field of play. She is a legend in our sport and I know she will be equally as exceptional as chef de mission.”
Tokyo first played host to the Olympics 56 years ago. The Japanese city will welcome the world again from July 24 to Aug. 9, 2020. The 2020 Summer Games will feature 33 sports with 339 medal events. More than 11,000 athletes and officials from 206 countries are expected to attend the Olympics.