With the countdown to the Summer Olympics on, Canada is preparing to send their largest summer team since 1984. The Canadian Olympic Committee has officially announced that Team Canada will consist of 370 athletes, the athletes are made of 145 men and 225 women who will be representing Canada in 30 sports.
This year, Calgarians can cheer for the home team as a handful of athletes from the city are competing in various sports. Here is a look at who they are.
Allison Beveridge, 28 – Cycling
Beveridge started cycling at the age of 14. She competed in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics where she won bronze in the team pursuit. Unfortunately, shortly after, she was diagnosed with vascular thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition where the blood vessels in between a person’s collarbone and first rib are compressed and start to cause blood clots. She required surgery in early 2017, and it was that same summer when Beveridge was able to start riding and winning medals again. She has been extremely successful in her career helping Canada win medals in multiple international competitions.
Haley Daniels, 30 – Canoe/Kayak/Slalom
Daniels started paddling at the age of 10 and competing at 14, when she fell in love with the adrenaline of the sport and the ability to compete outdoors. She will be one of the first women to compete in canoe slalom on the Olympic stage. Daniels has advocated for women’s equality in her sport, lobbying for women’s canoe events to be added to the Olympics.
Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, 30 – Rowing
Originally born in Montreal, Gruchalla-Wesierski was a competitive skier before breaking her leg. She was able to keep her Olympic dream alive after she picked up rowing at the age of 23. She helped her team finish fourth at the World Rowing Championships, securing a position for their boat at the Tokyo Olympics.
Nicole Hare, 26 – Rowing
Competing at the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016, Hare finished 14th in pair rowing. She started rowing at the age of 12 and was very unsure of what exactly the sport would be like. She received a bachelor of business administration from Washington State University and was named as a Second Team All-American and a National Scholar-Athlete by the College Rowing Coaches Association in the 2012-13 competition season.
Claudia Holzner, 27 – Artistic Swimming
Holzner, who started artistic swimming, more commonly known as synchronized swimming, at age eight, has always wanted to be an Olympian. After finishing her first year of nursing, Holzner moved to Montreal, where she now lives. She has been placing in international competitions since 2008 and, although she helped to win team gold for Canada in 2015 at the Pan American games, she fell short of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Holzner brought home gold in 2019 at the Pan American games in both duet and team.
Lynda Kiejko, 40 – Shooting
Kiejko followed her father’s passion and started pistol shooting at age 11. Her father was a three-time Olympian and her sister competed in the 2012 London Summer Olympics, both also competed in shooting. In her first Olympics, Rio 2016, Kiejko finished 38th in both 10-metre air pistol and 25-metre pistol. With a bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of Alberta, Kiejko works as a senior civil engineer. She secured her Olympic spot at the national trials competing only four months after the birth of her third child.
Yuri Kisil, 25 – Swimming
Wanting to make sure he’d be safe and comfortable in the water, Kisil’s parents started him in swim lessons at age eight. Despite winning multiple international medals, it wasn’t until the 2018 Pan Pacific Championship Kisil won his first individual medal, coming third in the 50-metre freestyle. He made his Olympic debut in 2016, competing in the 4×100-metre freestyle relay, 50-metre freestyle and 100-metre freestyle, where he was a semifinalist.
Caeli McKay, 22 – Diving
Mckay will be making her Olympic debut this year in Tokyo. She started diving at the age of six and placed third at the Winter Nationals when she was 14, reaching her first senior national podium.The 22-year-old moved away from her family at 16 to train in an environment that pushed her more in Montreal. Competing in both individual and synchronized diving, Mckay has placed in the top three in multiple international competitions including the Pan American games, Commonwealth Games and FINA World Cup.
Kelly McKee, 29 – Waterpolo
Mckee started playing water polo in Calgary at age 10 and represented Canada for her first time at age 15. She competed at the junior level for the first time in 2008 at the Junior Pan American Championships, where her team won gold. She has won three international silver medals including one at the Pan American games in 2019 which secured Canada a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.
Cole Pratt, 18, Swimming
Though he was originally born in Regina, the 18-year-old now lives in Calgary. Pratt made his international debut in 2018 at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, winning bronze in the 200-metre backstroke. He finished second at the Candian Olympic Trials in June 2021 where he earned his spot on the Tokyo Olympic team. His older sister, Halle Pratt, is also on Canada’s Olympic team as a competitor in artistic swimming.
Halle Pratt, 21 – Artistic Swimming
Growing up in a family of swimmers, Pratt didn’t have the same love for racing so when she was seven she started artistic swimming. Pratt joined the national program in 2013 and senior national team in 2017. Pratt has won multiple international medals, including a team gold medal at the Pan American games in 2019,which secured her spot for the Tokyo Olympics. Her younger brother, Cole Pratt, will also be making his Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Graham Vigrass, 32 – Indoor Volleyball
Vigrass comes from a family of Olympians, as both his uncle and cousin competed for Canada, in 1984 and 2016. At just over 6 feet 7 inches, Vigrass played for the University of Calgary before going pro in 2013, competing in multiple countries across Europe. He became a full-time national team member during the 2012-13 season and made his Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio, where his team placed fifth. Vigrass was named the World Leagues Best Middle Blocker in 2017 and has won multiple international medals with team Canada.