Skip to main content


Dawn is about to break on the 2016 Summer Games. Canadian athletes are heading to Brazil with high hopes, and they'll leave with cherished memories. The following Olympics primer is a guide to important storylines, athletes to watch and where to follow them online

Athletes conduct a test event at the Rio Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Athletes conduct a test event at the Rio Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana/The Associated Press


The national track and field team made a statement at the world championship last year in Beijing. The athletes are hoping for even bigger things at the Rio Games.

Derek Drouin won world gold in the high jump and Shawn Barber finished first in the pole vault as Canada reached the podium eight times.

They will anchor a strong Canadian contingent in Rio that includes Andre De Grasse, who could challenge defending champion Usain Bolt in the men's 100 metres.

Canadian Olympic Committee President Tricia Smith.

Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press


The Canadian Olympic Committee made organizational changes after allegations of sexual harassment were levelled at former president Marcel Aubut last year.

Aubut resigned in October and two executives and a manager were fired, with former Olympic rower Tricia Smith taking over as president.

In addition, Jean-Luc Brassard recently stepped aside as Canadian team's chef de mission, with Curt Harnett taking over.

The changes all came less than a year out from Rio, but the COC has said it remains confident the athletes will be ready for the Games.

Canada's Adam van Koeverden crosses the finish line on his way to a siver medal in the men's K1 1000 meter event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Canada’s Adam van Koeverden crosses the finish line on his way to a silver medal in the men’s K1 1,000-metre event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail


This could be the final Summer Games for a number of prominent Canadian athletes.

Swimmer Ryan Cochrane, who made his senior international debut in 2006, is set to compete at his third Olympics. It's a virtual certainty that this will be his final Games.

It will also likely be the Olympic swan song for two big-name members of the canoe-kayak team.

Kayaker Adam van Koeverden, who won gold in 2004 at Athens, is set to compete at the Games for the fourth time, while canoeist Mark Oldershaw will make his third Olympic appearance.

Canadians in action against the USA in men's volleyball at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

Canadians in action against the United States in men’s volleyball at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail


There will be some fresh faces for Canada in Rio as the country has qualified five teams for the Games.

The men's volleyball team is returning to the Olympics for the first time in 24 years.

The women's soccer team has also qualified for the Games, along with the women's basketball, women's rugby and men's field hockey teams.

It's the most team entries since Canada entered five teams at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Members of Canada's Women's Rugby Sevens team pose for a photo with flag-waving children at an event ahead of the Rio Games.

Members of Canada’s women’s rugby sevens team pose for a photo with flag-waving children at an event in Toronto ahead of the Rio Games.



Golf and rugby sevens have been added to the Olympic program and that could mean medals for Canada.

Teen phenom Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., is among the top-ranked female golfers in the world and has already won a major this year. She's a serious contender for the podium as golf returns to the Games for the first time since 1904.

While Canada's men's rugby sevens team failed to qualify, the women's squad is likely the country's best bet for a medal in a team event.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press



Brimming with confidence after her first major win on the LPGA Tour, Henderson is enjoying another strong, consistent season. The Rio golf course suits her big-hitting game and the 18-year-old will be a podium favourite now that she's rocketed up the world rankings.

Chris Wattie/Reuters


Canada's lone reigning Olympic champion is back to defend her women's trampoline title. Head injuries slowed her progress over the past year, but MacLennan expects to be in top form for Rio.

Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press


De Grasse showed he belonged among the track world's elite by racing to a bronze in the 100 metres at the world championship last year. The 2020 Tokyo Games may be a better bet for an Olympic breakthrough, but lining up against Usain Bolt in Rio would still be must-watch television.

David J. Phillip/The Associated Press


Sinclair carried the Canadian women's soccer team on her back in London, willing the squad to a bronze medal. It will be a tall order to return to the podium this year. However, any team with the sublime Sinclair on the pitch cannot be counted out.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press


Drouin emerged in the Olympic spotlight four years ago by finishing third in the men's high jump and really cemented his elite status with a world title last year. Drouin also has Commonwealth and Pan Am gold on his résumé and could very well win his first Olympic title.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press


The six-foot guard has shone on the big stage, helping the University of Connecticut win back-to-back NCAA women's basketball titles and leading Canada to gold at the FIBA Americas and Pan American Games. She'll be a dynamic force on the hard court for a Canadian team that has a decent shot at the podium.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press


Gold would be the next step in the Olympic progression for the Canadian distance freestyle swimmer. Cochrane won bronze in the 1,500 metres at the 2008 Beijing Games and added Olympic silver four years later in London. He will also race in the 400 and could reach the podium at that distance, too.

Christinne Muschi for The Globe and Mail


Women's boxing made its Olympic debut in London, but Fortin missed out on Canada's lone 75-kilogram roster spot, which went to Mary Spencer. American Claressa Shields is the dominant force in the division, but Fortin could still be in the mix for a medal.

Jim Young/Reuters


The veteran paddler won bronze in his Olympic debut in London four years ago. The two-time world champion in the K1 200 metres also won gold at the Pan American Games last summer in Toronto. He's a favourite to reach the podium again in Rio.

Michael Sohn/The Associated Press


Quebec divers Roseline Filion (pictured, left), Jennifer Abel, Meaghan Benfeito (pictured, right) and Pamela Ware – known as the Fab IV – are all medal threats in both synchro and individual events. They also say they're best friends who love to have fun together. There's plenty of evidence of this on their official Fab IV Twitter account.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press


Twitter: @RosieMacLennan
Instagram: @rosiemaclennan

Canada's flag-bearer for the opening ceremony and the only Canadian to bring home gold from the 2012 London Olympics, Rosie MacLennan is a contender to repeat as trampoline champion and will have a front-row seat for some of the biggest moments of the Games. The Toronto native frequently posts to Instagram as she travels the world and trains for competition.


Twitter: @De6rasse
Instagram: @de6rasse

Sprinter Andre De Grasse is already one of the brightest stars on the Canadian Olympic team. He'll be racing some of the biggest names in track and field in the men's 100- and 200-metre events. The Markham, Ont., native spices up his Instagram account with highlight-reel videos of his races.


Twitter: @EllieBlack_
Instagram: @ellieblack_

Artistic gymnast Ellie Black was at the 2012 London Olympics, but the Halifax native really caught fans' attention when she came away with five medals at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. Black is a contender to win more medals and posts on Instagram regularly with behind-the-scenes photos of Canada's gymnastics team.


Twitter: @curtharnett
Instagram: @curtnet

A member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and the chef de mission for the country's delegation to the Rio Games, Curt Harnett will always be where the action is at these Olympics. Some may remember his cycling medals at the 1984, 1992 and 1996 Olympics – or shampoo commercials featuring his curly blond hair – but it is his wicked sense of humour that shines through on social media.


Twitter: @MandyBujold
Instagram: @mandybujold

Mandy Bujold has won back-to-back Pan American boxing gold medals in the women's flyweight class. The Cobourg, Ont., native tweets her gratitude to supportive fans and often posts videos and photos from her training regime on Instagram.


Twitter: @Tnyhaug49
SnapChat: tnyhaug49
Instagram: @tnyhaug49

Tory Nyhaug of New Westminster, B.C., is Canada's best BMX cyclist and is coming off gold at the Pan Am Games in Toronto last summer. He's one of the few athletes to publicize their SnapChat accounts, giving his fans an extra way to follow along with his Olympic journey.


Twitter: @jen_kish
SnapChat: kishtopher
Instagram: @jen_kish

Ottawa's Jen Kish is the charismatic face of Canada's women's rugby sevens team as the sport makes its Olympic debut in Rio. She is an avid social-media user whose posts are peppered with a lot of humour.


Twitter: @GrahamDeLaet

Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., will try to defend Canada's 112-year-old men's Olympic golf title along with David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., when the sport returns to the Games this summer. DeLaet is very vocal on Twitter, posting comments and observations throughout the PGA Tour season, as well as supporting other Canadian athletes.


Twitter: @rhirhi8
Instagram: @rhianw7

Canada's women's soccer team stole the show at the 2012 London Olympics, with its dramatic semi-final loss to the United States and its bronze-medal win over France. Defender Rhian Wilkinson of Pointe-Claire, Que., is just one of the returning names from that medal-winning team and frequently tweets, teasing her teammates online.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press