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Workers in PPE stand next to the Olympic rings inside the closed loop area near the National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest, on Dec. 30, 2021. The opening and closing ceremonies of the 2022 Winter Games will be held there.THOMAS PETER/Reuters

The Canadian Olympic Committee has launched its official Beijing 2022 ad campaign featuring several athletes set to star in China – the latest indication that the Winter Games are forging ahead on schedule.

Concerns and controversies clouding next month’s Beijing Olympics include the fast-spreading Omicron variant and a diplomatic boycott over human-rights violations by host China.

But Canada seems to be moving full steam ahead. More athletes were nominated to Team Canada over the weekend, including 13 figure skaters. And on Monday morning, the COC’s ad campaign went live on national television, print, digital and social media, plus other advertising media such as billboards and bus shelters.

The campaign includes a 60-second TV spot featuring eight Canadian athletes in a training montage – a mix of medalists and those looking to make the Olympic podium for the first time. “We come from everywhere and can overcome anything,” the ad touts.

It’s the second iteration of the COC’s “Glory From Anywhere” campaign, which debuted last summer ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

“We wanted to bring more of their story to Canadians in this campaign and to highlight that glory is also found in the journey most of us never see,” said Jacquie Ryan, the COC’s chief brand and commercial officer. “Glory is in the gym, on the slopes, on the ice and in the air. It’s in the struggles they face, not just in the medals they win, and I think that idea can have a lot of power right now as we’re all digging a little deeper to navigate the second winter of the pandemic.”

The COC worked with Toronto-based creative agency Camp Jefferson on the campaign. K-72 from Montreal led the French creative campaign.

Bobsleigh hopeful Cynthia Appiah is an athlete Canadians may see for the first time in this commercial. An alternate at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, she didn’t get to compete there. But she has been thriving on the track this season and has transitioned from the brakewoman role in the back of the sled to the front, hoping to become one of Canada’s first Black bobsleigh pilots.

Appiah aims to have a sled in the two-woman discipline and also make history in a new solo Olympic discipline for women, the monobob. She earned a bronze medal this season in the monobob at the test event on the Chinese track in Yanqing.

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Canada's Cynthia Appiah reacts after the women's monobob. Appiah is an athlete Canadians may see for the first time in this commercial.MATTHIAS RIETSCHEL/Reuters

The daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, Appiah grew up in Toronto community housing with her three siblings. He parents regularly sent money to relatives back in Ghana, so they couldn’t afford to put the kids in organized sports. Appiah only tried sports in school and when the Toronto Blue Jays ran a baseball outreach program in Riverdale Park for underprivileged kids in her neighbourhood. Years later, she even landed a job with the Jays, in customer service.

She also applied her competitive spirit toward earning a spot on York University’s track and field team, competing at shot put and hammer throw. When Ontario Bobsleigh came to York to hold a talent identification camp, Appiah showed promise in the physical testing and was invited to Lake Placid to try out.

She loved the idea, especially since watching the 2010 Vancouver Olympics on TV and seeing Canadian women dominate the sport. Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse took gold in their two-woman sled, and teammates Helen Upperton and Shelly-Ann Brown took silver.

“I thought that was super cool,” said Appiah in a recent phone interview from Winterberg, Germany, where she competed this past weekend. “My only other reference to bobsleigh back then was the movie Cool Runnings, like most people. And I just was like, ‘Okay, I want to get into that.’ ”

She has put in many seasons of work since then. Going all the way to South Korea just to watch from the sidelines at the 2018 Olympics was painful. Now 31, this is finally Appiah’s Games to shine.

This Olympic quadrennial has had its stresses, including pandemic lockdowns that forced many sliders out of their training facilities. Two weeks ago, the national bobsleigh team experienced a COVID-19 outbreak that affected more than a dozen people, including athletes and coaches. Appiah feels lucky to have only suffered nasal congestion and one missed race. But it has tested her resilience.

“We’ve got two events this time versus the one going into Pyeongchang, and that requires so much mental energy and effort that I can’t let myself get distracted with the noise and the pandemic,” she said.

In Beijing, she’ll be thinking of the little girl in Toronto who had no idea of the impact sports would have on her life.

“To kind of make the strides that I’ve had, knowing where I’ve come from, that just really shows that from all pockets, in all corners of this great country that I represent, that glory can really come from anywhere,” she said.

Other Canadian Olympic hopefuls featured in the COC spot include the ice dance team of Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, hockey player Jocelyne Larocque, snowboarder Max Parrot, speed skater Gilmore Junio, skeleton rider Jane Channell and superstar freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury.

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics will take place Feb. 4.

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