Athletes who got their literal golden ticket to next summer’s Olympics in Paris thanks to the Pan American Games plan to make the most of it.
Vancouver breaker Philip Kim, also known as B-Boy Phil Wizard, surfer Sanoa Dempfle-Olin of Tofino, BC, and boxers Tammara Thibeault of Shawinigan, Que., and Wyatt Sanford of Kennetcook, N.S., left Chile with coveted souvenir golden tickets to Paris.
All four Canadians reached the Olympic qualification thresholds in their respective sports in Santiago.
Not seeking an Olympic berth for the next nine months frees them to devote energy to other elements of their preparation for Paris.
“It frees me, by breaking, to create more,” Kim said. “I’ve been competing a lot last year and when you’re in competition mode, it takes up all your time and doesn’t allow you to develop new moves.
“That’s going to be my focus from now until Paris, just creating some new moves.”
Sanford intends to use his extra time studying opponents who are already ranked “so we can have a better strategy,” he said.
“We don’t have to do the other two heats, so we have more time in the gym to look at those minor things and make sure we have a big impact.”
SEE | Full replay of the 2023 Pan American Games closing ceremony:
The Pan American Games coincided with the South American summer at the end of October and November. That’s out of season for many Canadian summer sports athletes who have already spent months traveling to compete.
“Right now, the priority is rest and recovery,” Thibeault said. “Also, there are some things I definitely want to fix in terms of performance.”
having this [Olympic] The secured location allows me to train even harder… and have everything organized.— Surfer Sanoa Dempfle-Olin on the 2024 Summer Games in Paris
Dempfle-Olin’s Olympic qualification is provisional following her participation in February’s World Surfing Games in Puerto Rico.
But unlike the more than 100 women chasing the remaining seven Olympic spots, the 18-year-old can begin to adapt her preparation for Olympic surfing in Tahiti.
“It gives me an Olympic event to prepare for,” Dempfle-Olin said. “Having this spot secured and knowing that I’m going to go whether I get a good result or not, it allows me to train even harder and prepare the boards for a wave like Teahupo’o and have everything organized.”
SEE | Highlights of Canadian athletes in action on the final day of competition:
Paris will host the Olympic Games from July 26 to August 11, followed by the Paralympic Games from August 28 to September 8 in 2024.
The Canadian Olympic Committee plans to move some operational elements of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and Beijing in 2022 to Paris due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think Team Canada might lead the pack in mask wearing in Paris. I say that ironically,” COC executive director David Shoemaker said in Santiago.
“Taking those kinds of precautions, listening to our medical director, Dr. Mike Wilkinson, and following health, safety and wellness rules really helped us a lot. We were able to get all of our athletes competing in Tokyo. Not one athlete was denied the competition in Beijing.”
Canadian athletes were ordered to wear a mask for 72 hours after arriving in Santiago “and then, particularly in outdoor spaces, they are free to take it off,” Shoemaker said.
“If someone tested positive, we were going to isolate people,” he continued. “We’re going to borrow a lot of that when we go to Paris.”
The COC executive hopes that the participation of athletes will prevent diseases
Shoemaker said that while it’s not comfortable to wear a mask on a plane or in the heat of Paris, he believes Canada’s athletes will take precautions to prevent illness so they can make it to the starting line.
“When your performance and your lifelong dream of performing at the Olympics are reduced to fractions of a second or fragments of a centimeter, you are not going to take the risk, whether it is COVID or some other virus, that could jeopardize the form you feel on the day of the competition,” he said.
An Olympic host city is under the international microscope in the months before thousands of people from around the world arrive. A bedbug infestation in Paris made headlines in recent weeks.
Shoemaker believes Paris will have bed bugs under control by next summer. Kim feels calm after competing in the Red Bull BC One World Final at Roland-Garros in October.
“I was worried, but I was actually in Paris last week,” he said Sunday. “When I got to my hotel, everything was fine. When I was on the street and stuff, I didn’t really see any mattresses or stuff outside.
“I know that was all over the news too, but in my experience, everything was fine.”
SEE | Canada’s gold medal-winning breaker earns Olympic berth: