Penny Oleksiak earns Canada-record seventh Olympic medal … – Sporting News

Three nights ago, Penny Oleksiak made Canadian Summer Olympic history. On Saturday night (technically Sunday morning in Japan) she made Canadian Olympic history.
Oleksiak, anchoring the women’s 100-meter medley relay, touched the wall behind Australia and the United States and sealed the deal on a bronze medal. With that shiny new piece of hardware — her seventh overall — she became Canada’s most decorated Olympian. Man or woman. Summer or Winter Games. She’s the best.
Oh, and she’s just 21 and — surely — just getting started.
“We got it and wanted that for her. As soon as she finished, we were like, ‘Most decorated,'” said Sydney Pickrem emphatically, before adding what everyone across the Pacific Ocean was thinking, “Which is so cool obviously.”
Added Kylie Masse, who won two individual silvers herself: “What she’s accomplished is actually insane. The fact that we get to swim with her and we get to contribute to that is really, really special. It’s super cool. She’s a legend, and we’re really happy for her.”
It all started at the 2016 Summer Olympics, a then-16-year-old Oleksiak won a gold medal (100-meter freestyle), a silver (100 butterfly) and two bronzes (freestyle relay teams). Her four medals set a mark for a Canadian athlete in a single Summer Games and tied Victor Davis’ all-time Canadian record for Olympic swimmers.
CANADA 2021: Daily schedule | Medal count
In Tokyo, she kicked the 2021 games off with a silver anchoring the 4×100-meter free relay via a slim margin over the Americans. With that one she tied rower Lesley Thompson-Willie and middle-distance runner Phil Edwards’ record of five career summer medals.
She then won a bronze in the women’s 200-meter freestyle and became Canada’s Summer Olympic most decorated athlete. Oleksiak also tied the record for most career medals by a Canadian with Winter Olympian Cindy Klassen (long track speedskating) and Winter and Summer Olympian Clara Hughes (road cycling and long track speedskating).

“Most decorated Canadian Olympian” yells Kylie Masse, celebrating Penny Oleksiak.

What a scene here in Tokyo.
“Honestly, wasn’t thinking about it going into the games,” Oleksiak said. “But then once I got my sixth, there was a little bit of pressure on me, I feel like, to get that seventh medal.”
Her next two races — the women’s 4×200-meter relay and the women’s 100m free — she said she focused a little too much on getting No. 7 and the result was fourth-place finishes (both were Canadian records). It “hurt a little bit,” she said and was happy with six and had “accepted it.”
The prevailing thought was: see you in Paris for No. 7. But, she did have one more race left on her to-do list in Tokyo. 
Swimming fourth, her teammates Masse (backstroke), Pickrem (breaststroke) and Maggie Mac Neil (butterfly) gave her a great head start for third. Trailing behind the powerhouses of the Australians and Americans, Oleksiak turned it up and narrowed the gap but she ran out of water.
MORE: Recapping Oleksiak’s 2021 Summer Games
When she touched the wall, the awesome foursome swam a Canadian record of 3:52.60 — and Oleksiak became the greatest ever.
Despite it all, she knows she didn’t do it on her own. 
“I’ve been going through hell and back for the last two, three years,” said Oleksiak. She revealed she had a back injury at one point that kept her out of the water for a handful of months but wouldn’t go into further details. “I think these girls, that kind of seen me struggle through it pretty hard and to be here and just come out the other end of everything and know that I’m doing good now … and knowing that we’re going to freaking Paris and we’re going to swim and I’m just so excited to see what’s going to happen.”
“Seven medals says a lot about the depth of Penny as much as it does about her talent,” said Canada’s Chef de Mission Marnie McBean in a Team Canada statement. “Winning one medal is hard, and multiple at one Games is all about the ability to reset and focus. Winning multiple medals at multiple Games — that is a battle against so much more. The notion of repeating and the burden of expectations, internally and externally, can be so disruptive.
“Penny figured out how to thrive all while being an amazing role model to young Canadians.”
The relay medal marked the 13th overall for Canada at the 2021 Olympics — all by women, by the way — and sixth bronze by the country. It was also the sixth medal in the pool for Canada, which includes Oleksiak’s individual bronze, a gold from Mac Neil (women’s 100 butterfly), the women’s silver relay and Masse’s two silvers in the women’s 100- and 200-meter backstroke.
That’s a pretty impressive haul, earmarked by Oleksiak’s record-setting run, which will only grow in three years. After all, like Audrey Hepburn said: “Paris is always a good idea.”
Tasuku Okawa contributed to this story.


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