39 - 41 of the Bay St. Bull Power 50: Canadian Athletes and Olympians
The Power 50 is a collection of Canada’s top people, places and things of 2016. Our list is filled with game changers from all corners of the nation that are inspiring, innovating and influencing the way we live and work from the top. Giving you the best from every city, industry, office and home, The Bull’s Canadian Power 50 is not your typical list and instead is the definitive guide to who and what is changing the way Canada lives, works and plays.
39: Canadian Olympians
The biggest sporting event on the planet is coming to Rio de Janeiro: the 2016 Olympic Games. And while Canadian athletes took home an impressive 18 medals at the 2012 Games in London, there was a disappointing gold drought that the country hopes to right this year. Stylishly outfitted by the duo behind Dsquared2, Canada will soon be sending 315 athletes to the vibrant Brazilian metropolis to get the job done.
Here are five of the our best bets to take centre stage (and first place on the podium).
ANDRE DE GRASSE, ATHLETICS: The Canadian sprinter has been called a marketer’s dream: young, humble, likable and oozing with potential. He’s also a quick study. At 21, would you believe he only started running track at 17? It’s been a triumphant four years since. De Grasse has the kind of crossover star appeal to wind up not only with a gold medal around his neck, but a series of lucrative endorsement deals in his pocket.
BRIANNE THEISEN-EATON, ATHLETICS: Heading into what will likely be her final Olympic Games, the Canadian not only enters as a clear medal favourite for Canada, but she recently bagged gold at the World Indoor Athletics Championships. However she places in Rio, some podium hardware would only further burnish the Olympic dynasty in her household—Theisen-Eaton is married to Ashton Eaton, an American Olympian who holds the world record in both the decathlon and indoor heptathlon events.
MARK DE JONGE, KAYAK: Having earned bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and then progressing to a silver at the World Championships in 2013—followed by two straight gold medals at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships—the Canadian kayaker secured his spot at the Rio Olympics after winning the men's K1 200-metre race at the national sprint team trials. If that’s not enough momentum going for him, the medal-predicting service Infostrada has pinned de Jonge as Canada’s sole gold medallist in Rio.
ROSIE MACLENNAN, TRAMPOLINE: The reigning World Trampoline champion, Olympic champion, and Pan American Games champion clinched her 2016 Olympic berth with a victory at the Canada Cup in March. At only 27 years of age currently, her gold medal win at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London ranked as the first and only gold medal for Canada at those games, and the first Canadian trampoline gold medal ever. With Rio around the corner, she looks poised to do it again.
RYAN COCHRANE, SWIMMING: Canada’s most high-profile swimmer is already an Olympic silver and bronze medalist (the first Olympic medal for a Canadian swimmer since the 1996 Summer Olympics). In fact, his eight World Championship medals make Cochrane the most-decorated swimmer in Canadian history. But he has gold firmly on his mind this year. Competing in the 400- and 1500-metre freestyle events in Rio, at least one looks to be all but certain.
40: Connor McDavid
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes… and Canada’s ‘next big thing’ in hockey. Following in that celebrated line of the Wayne Gretzky’s, Mario Lemieux’s, and Sidney Crosby’s comes Connor McDavid, an Ontario native poised to ascend as the country’s succeeding NHL phenom.
At only 19 years of age, the Edmonton Oilers centre is already garnering Crosby-like momentum as a prodigy on the way to superstardom. After all, here’s a kid who who won the OHL Rookie of the Year Award in 2013, then played for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship as a 16-year-old, one of six players to do that and the first since Crosby in 2004. In 2015, he was selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft. And just like the legendary prologue of a young Gretzky honing his craft in a backyard rink at his childhood home—gliding around Javex bleach bottles and tin cans—McDavid too hits the ice with his own indelible backstory.
Having first skated at 3 years old, McDavid was playing hockey the very next year. But since he had to be 5, his parents fibbed about his birthday. When McDavid turned 6, he was banned by the hockey association in his hometown of Newmarket, Ontario to play above his age group. So rather than have him compete in the lower level, McDavid’s parents enlisted him with a team in nearby Aurora, where he excelled against players as old as 9. Then at 15, he would be awarded exceptional-player status so he could be drafted a year early (and first overall) into the Ontario Hockey League.
That old axiom “And the rest was history…” would typically apply here but McDavid’s is a story not only being written, but still in its formative stages. He made his NHL debut less than a year ago and scored his first goal (and point) just four nights later. But a month afterward, he broke his clavicle against the Philadelphia Flyers and missed 37 games. He returned to the lineup in February 2016, scoring a goal and gaining two assists. An in his first game against his boyhood team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, McDavid had his first five-point night, recording a point on every goal in a 5–2 victory, including three assists and two goals.
The countdown is now on for his three-year entry level contract with the Oilers to come up so the world can see what McDavid can do on a winning team in a destination city for big, big money. But waiting it out shouldn’t slow the McDavid express in the interim. Because if anything has defined Connor McDavid’s life on the ice so far, it’s that he won’t wait for time to catch up to him.
41: Milos Raonic: Athlete, Tennis
Here are a few reasons why you should care about Milos Raonic: a professional tennis player who reached a No. 4 singles ranking in 2015, he is the first player born in the 1990s to win an ATP World Tour title, to be ranked in the top 10, and to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals.
And yes, he’s a fellow Canuck too. But unlike the countless cases of a Canadian athlete in the sporting realm who you feel obliged to champion simply because he shares a passport, Raonic has earned his place at the table in regards to our national support.
For starters, Raonic’s career-best world No. 4 ranking is the highest by a Canadian man or woman. He’s also the first Canadian male in the Open Era to reach the Australian Open semifinals, the French Open quarterfinals, and most recently the Wimbledon finals. In fact, Raonic has more ATP World Tour titles and finals appearances in the Open Era than all other Canadian men combined.
On top of it, he’s banked over $10 Million in career prize money and will be proudly representing Canada in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games. That’s in addition to his philanthropic efforts with the Milos Raonic Foundation, which aims to “support children from disadvantaged backgrounds in order to remove economic, physical and other barriers that might prevent them from becoming healthy, productive members of society.” As of 2016, the endeavour had awarded $120,000 in grants to the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, and $30,000 to the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
However you want to serve it up, at just 25, Milos Raonic is already one of the most successful Canadian singles players in history—both on and off the court. And statistically, he’s among the strongest servers in the Open Era, winning 91% of service games to rank third all-time.
So it’s fair to say the young stud has a lot more going for him than just being a domestic darling.
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