COC Closes Out 2008 Games Among Top-16 Nations

Karen Cockburn Chosen as Closing Ceremony Flag Bearer

The Canadian Olympic Team closes out the Games of the XXIX Olympiad tonight with a total of 18 medals, placing them tied for 13th overall in terms of total medals (as of Sunday morning) and within their projected goal as one of the top 16 nations. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games hosted a record 204 nations. In preparation for the closing ceremony, Canada has chosen Toronto’s Karen Cockburn as its flag bearer.

Cockburn, 27, captured a silver medal in women’s trampoline on Day 10 of the Games (Aug. 18). The medal was her third in as many Games, making her one of only five Canadians to have reached the podium in three consecutive summer Games (Phil Edwards, Athletics; Lesley Thompson-Willie, Rowing; Caroline Brunet, Canoe/Kayak; Emilie Heymans, Diving).

Cockburn also won bronze in Sydney in 2000 and silver in Athens in 2004.

“I’m incredibly humbled by this honour,” said Cockburn. “It will be an unbelievable thrill. There were so many great Olympic moments for Canada in Beijing. These will definitely be Games to remember.”

“We are so proud of each and every one of our Canadian Olympians,” said Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) president Michael Chambers. “Our top-16 goal was ambitious but it was matched by the determination of our athletes. They came here on a mission and they delivered. The building blocks are in place. We’re on the right path for London 2012.”

“Living with these exceptional athletes over the last few weeks and seeing their dedication and professionalism has made me realize how fortunate we are as Canadians to have them as our ambassadors,” said Canada’s Chef de Mission Sylvie Bernier. “Peter (Giles) and I managed to attend almost all their events and we were moved by their exploits and accomplishments.”

The Canadian Olympic Team finished with three gold, nine silver and six bronze medals. Its 18 medals equaled the totals from the Barcelona Games in 1992 to match its third best Games ever. Only Atlanta in 1996 (22) and Los Angeles in 1984 (44) rank higher.

Canada also finished the Beijing Games with 10 fourth-place finishes, six fifth-place finishes and a total of 59 top-8 finishes. Looking at conversion rates, Canada converted 67% of its pool of potential medalists (27) in 2008 compared to a 34% conversion rate in Athens. The 2004 Games saw Canada finish with eight fourth-place finishes, 15 fifth-place results and a total of 60 in the top-8.

Day 8 of Olympic competition saw Canada collect its first medals after rowers David Calder (Victoria) and Scott Frandsen (Kelowna, B.C.) captured silver in men’s pairs. They were followed closely by wrestler Carol Huynh (Hazelton, B.C.), who won Canada’s first gold of 2008 in the women’s 48kg division. Tonya Verbeek (Beamsville, Ont.) then followed suit and collected her second career Olympic wrestling medal with a bronze in the women’s 55kg division. The tally would provide Canada its momentum as it proceeded to record four straight multi-medal days.

As the Canadian Olympic Team proceeded through the second week, Equestrian’s Eric Lamaze turned in a double medal performance. The Schomberg, Ontario native first helped teammates Ian Millar (Perth, Ont.), Mac Cone (King City, Ont.) and Jill Henselwood (Oxford Mills, Ont.) win Canada its first medal (silver) in Team Jumping in 40 years. Lamaze then proceeded to capture gold in show jumping for the Canada’s first individual gold medal in Equestrian.

In rowing, Canada sent five boats to finals and they captured a team-leading four medals; one gold, one silver and two bronze. Five other sports earned two medals each for Canada in 2008. These include Canoe/Kayak, Diving, Equestrian, Trampoline and Wrestling.

Other Canadian highlights from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games include:

  • Ian Millar winning his first career Olympic medal (silver, Team Jumping) in his ninth Games appearance
  • First-time Olympian Jason Burnett (Etobicoke, Ont.) winning silver in men’s trampoline
  • The men’s 8 in rowing defending their world title and claiming Olympic gold at Shunyi
  • Three-time Olympian Alexandre Despatie (Laval, Que.) winning silver in the men’s 3m springboard, matching his result from 2004
  • Emilie Heymans (Greenfield Park, Que.,) winning silver in the women’s 10m platform for her third medal in as many Games (silver in 2000 and bronze in 2004 in 10m synchronized)
  • Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane capturing bronze in the men’s 1,500m freestyle while Canadian swimmers set 27 new national records and made 10 finals
  • Three-time Olympian Simon Whitfield (Kingston, Ont.) returning to the podium with a silver in the men’s triathlon-eight years removed from his gold in Sydney
  • Opening ceremony flag bearer Adam van Koeverden setting a world record in the K1-500 heats and then paddling to silver in the final for his third career Olympic medal
  • Prescilla Lopes-Schliep (Whitby, Ont.) running to bronze in the women’s 100m hurdles for Athletics’ first medal since Atlanta 1996
  • The men’s archery team placing 11th for their highest finish ever at an Olympic Games
  • Cycling’s Svein Tuft (Langley, B.C.) and Ryder Hesjadel (Victoria) each beating Canada’s previous best finish in the time trial, placing 7th and 16th respectively (previous best 18th by Eric Wohlberg in 2004)
  • Toronto’s Michael Barry posting a ninth-place finish in cycling’s individual road race for Canada’s best finish since Steve Bauer’s silver in 1984