Two Olympic legends will lead Canada to the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.
The Canadian Olympic Committee announced Wednesday that women’s hockey captain Marie-Philip Poulin and men’s speed skater Charles Hamelin will be Canada’s flag bearers at Friday’s opening ceremonies.
“Being named flag bearer, I feel like I have to pinch myself. I have watched Charles over the past two decades and seen him succeed, I will be very honored to walk alongside Charles carrying the flag,” Poulin said.
Hamelin said being part of Team Canada is like family.
“Having my fifth Olympics is really amazing. For me, this family is one of the main reasons I’m still here and why I love what I do. Every time I walked into a ceremony opening day, I look up to the flag bearer as a role model. Being named a flag bearer is something I can now check off my to-do list.
Poulin, 30, will be competing at his fourth Olympics in search of his third gold medal.
But Poulin and the rest of Team Canada had to settle for silver after a shootout loss in the gold medal game four years ago in Pyeongchang.
Now, after Poulin scored another winner in overtime to clinch the 2021 world championships for Canada in August, the team will look to firmly reestablish their place at the top of the women’s hockey pecking order in Beijing.
“It would mean the world,” Poulin recently told CBC Sports. “Canada holds its hockey players to a high standard. We want to be the best hockey country.”
WATCH | Poulin wins the 2021 world championships for Canada:
Poulin’s quest for more gold begins before the Opening Ceremony when Canada takes on Switzerland on Wednesday at 11:10 p.m. ET. The bronze medal game will take place on February 16 and the final a day later.
Hamelin in pursuit of history
For Hamelin, 37, Beijing will likely represent his fifth and last Olympic Games.
Hamelin has never come away empty-handed at his four previous Olympic Games. Three of his five medals are gold.
In Beijing, Hamelin will compete in the men’s 1,500 meters (February 9) and may also compete in the mixed team relay (February 5) and the men’s 5,000 m relay (final February 16).
WATCH | Hamelin ready for another Olympics:
Poulin and Hamelin are the second group of athletes from different sports to win flag bearer honors together after the International Olympic Committee made an amendment last March to allow each country to nominate a man and a woman.
Basketball player Miranda Ayim and rugby sevens star Nathan Hirayama shared responsibility for the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020. Legendary Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were the country’s flag bearers to open the Games Pyeongchang Olympics four years ago.
The opening ceremony in Beijing was recently cut to around 100 minutes due to COVID-19 and cold weather concerns. International spectators were barred from all events at these Olympics, with only certain national groups allowed to attend.
Canada is among nine countries, including the United States and Australia, that are implementing a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics over alleged human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in China. This means that there will be no Canadian political representation at the opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Beijing.
CBC is offering several live streams of the event, including ones with Eastern Cree commentary, a dedicated descriptive video, and American Sign Language. If you miss the event, CBC TV will air an encore at 8 p.m. ET.