Canada’s focus solely on sports at Glasgow Games

Around this time four years ago, Canadian team general manager Scott Stevenson was scrubbing floors at the Commonwealth Games athletes village in India. Canada’s team had delayed its travel to New Delhi — for as long as a week for some athletes — because of serious concerns about hygiene and security in the village.

GLASGOW — Around this time four years ago, Canadian team general manager Scott Stevenson was scrubbing floors at the Commonwealth Games athletes village in India.

Canada’s team had delayed its travel to New Delhi — for as long as a week for some athletes — because of serious concerns about hygiene and security in the village.

Canadian officials called the athletes’ quarters “unlivable.” Canada was among several countries that talked about pulling out.

Four years later, Stevenson and the rest of the Canadian team in Glasgow can focus on competition rather than cleaning — and that alone could help Canada climb back into the top three on the Commonwealth medal table.

“The challenge of Delhi was incredible,” said Stevenson. “We were looking at turning on taps that ran right to the floor. Flushing toilets that didn’t flush. There were live wires. We had to buy equipment and cleaning supplies. We had to be, in so many ways, responsible for getting the village ready ourselves.”

Stevenson arrived in Glasgow to inspect Canada’s living quarters, and their some-385 beds. He was three or four rooms into it when he sat back and realized “Wait a second, I haven’t made one note yet.

“Here, we could hit the ground running,” Stevenson said at the team’s opening news conference Tuesday.

Canada is gunning for a top-three finish in Glasgow after finishing fourth in New Delhi behind Australia, England and the home country.

The 265-member team is the largest Canada has ever fielded for a Commonwealth Games held outside of Canada, and it boasts Olympic and world championship medallists such as swimmer Ryan Cochrane, high jumper Derek Drouin, and heptathlete and decathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Damian Warner.

“Our national sport bodies see this as a very important opportunity, not just as a stepping stone but as a very competitive event,” Stevenson said. “Very strong fields here. You’re going to see some great competition. Some of the events have the very best in the world here.”

Among the Games’ international stars: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, distance runner Mo Farah and diver Tom Daley of England, Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas, and rugby sevens player Samisoni Viriviri of Fiji.

Field hockey and rugby will be strong — Australia won the recent men’s World Cup and was second on the women’s side, while Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand virtually rule rugby sevens.

The Canadians expect strong opposition again from perennial powerhouse Australia, plus England and Scotland, which likely wouldn’t mind a strong showing ahead of the country’s independence referendum on Sept. 18.

“We believe in the reviews we’ve done that we’ll be in and around third place,” Stevenson said. “We anticipate moving back into where we are pushing the Aussies and England better than we did back then.”

Canada claimed 76 medals in 2010, including 26 gold, 17 silver and 33 bronze, but Stevenson wouldn’t wager how many times Canadians might climb the podium in Scotland.

When asked if 100 medals might be attainable, he said “If things go great, maybe. If things align. But we’re not getting into actual numbers.

“(But 100) is a beautiful number.”

Canada has topped 100 medals five times: 1994 in Victoria (129), 2002 in Manchester (118), 1986 in Edinburgh (116), 1990 in Auckland, N.Z., (113), and 1978 in Edmonton (109).

Veteran shooter Susan Nattrass will carry Canada’s flag into the opening ceremonies. The 63-year-old also boasts the most Commonwealth medals won by any member of this team, with eight (three silver, five bronze).

The team’s youngest member is 16-year-old gymnast Isabela Onyshko. The oldest: Paralympic lawn bowler Al Hanet, who is 78.

Canada will compete in 16 of the 17 sports, fielding teams in all but netball. And in every sport except judo, which had a conflict with an Olympic qualifying event, Canada is fielding its A team.

“Right away, coming out of Delhi, knowing what was going to follow Glasgow with the Pan Am Games in Toronto next year and then the Olympic Games in Rio, it became three Games back-to-back-to-back which became very important,” Stevenson said. “You put three multi-sport Games together in a row, you’re really going to be able to refine so many areas before the show in Rio. There’s a real opportunity.”

The smooth organization of Glasgow, and the ability to focus solely on sport, is a welcome relief for Stevenson and the rest of the Canadian team.

Stevenson recalled how some 130 journalists from various Commonwealth countries showed up for Canada’s opening news conference four years ago in New Delhi.

“Most of the interest there was not about sport. The interest there was more about the conditions in the village and some of the challenges we anticipated facing,” he told the handful of reporters on hand Tuesday.

Former Paralympic star Chantal Petiticlerc, Canada’s chef de mission in Glasgow, said the excitement in the Glasgow village is palpable.

“You can really feel that in the village at the moment where everything is going so well, the spirit and the atmosphere is so good, but at the same time highly competitive,” she said. “That’s something that I enjoy (about the Commonwealth Games), the balance of a great experience, but at the same time a great experience and great performances.”

Of Canada’s 265 athletes, there are 20 medallists from the New Delhi Games, while 134 of the athletes are Commonwealth Games rookies.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

Most Read