Calgarians cheer on Canadian athletes as Tokyo 2020 Olympics end in gold
CALGARY – The stands may have been empty in Japan, but the bars in Calgary were packed on Friday morning to cheer Canada’s women’s soccer team on to gold against Sweden.
Fans of the 5 Brewpub Trolley painted their faces, draped Canadian flags over their shoulders and eagerly watched Julia Grosso’s golden shot on goal soar into the net.
“My nerves are pissed off and it was amazing, just amazing,” said Shawna Baldwin, who coaches an U-12 women’s team with Calgary Villains Soccer.
“It’s for my daughters!”
Another fan named Megan almost cried watching the gold medal ceremony.
“It gave me everything, that was it,” she said. “I’m so proud to be Canadian, thank you very much Canada, it was such a good performance and it gave me life.
Meanwhile, Calgarians got to see firsthand what an Olympic gold medal looked like right in front of their eyes during a viewing night.
Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski won gold in the women’s eight in rowing and just returned from Tokyo a few days ago.
“It’s super cool,” she said.
“It really makes you realize how important it is to the community and to Canada and that’s why we do what we do and that’s why people dream of becoming Olympians because winning a medal is so much more taller than us. “
Canadian wrestling team assistant coach Mitch Ostberg was also in attendance.
He agreed that the Olympic spirit is very much alive with us.
“The sporting spectacle is so incredible, it’s such a crazy race to get to the real result and what an incredible experience.
“For this day to end with a gold medal for the women’s football team which has gone through several Olympic Games and lived through heartbreaking times is such a great story. “
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
The referee isn’t someone typical sports fans would cheer on, but a Calgary dad couldn’t be prouder of his son who is about to call the biggest game of his life.
Calgarian Michael Weiland is the referee for the Friday night gold medal-winning basketball team between the United States and France.
His father John himself is a former international referee who called games dating back to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and even took the field with NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Like father, like son, he couldn’t be more proud.
“Since Michael got his Olympic assignment our phone has been ringing nonstop and it’s so fantastic we’ve received a lot of kudos,” John said.
“You hold on to every call he makes and you don’t want him to make any mistakes, so it’s a little scary, but we’re so excited.”
RACE TO ARRIVAL
The Olympics end with a “race to the finish” as the world’s best long-distance runners compete in the women’s and men’s marathon final.
Calgary marathon runner Trevor Hofbauer is set to embark on the 42.2-kilometer journey on Saturday afternoon as more than 100 of his biggest fans enjoy an evening of viewing at Tool Shed Brewing.
Hofbauer, who works at the Strides Running Store in Calgary, won the Olympic Marathon Trials in October 2019, winning the race and finishing with the second fastest time in Canadian history at 2:09:51.
His run, which was well below the Olympic standard of 2:11:30, earned him a spot on the Canadian team en route to Tokyo.
“He feels great,” said Jeremy Deere, owner of Strides.
“Trevor is a great guy, we can at least see him over the shoulders of the others at the start and hopefully he can stay in the middle of the field for a good part of the race. For those of us who are his friends and trained with him, it’s going to be spectacular, he worked so hard for this goal.
The viewing night is also a fundraiser for Hofbauer to continue his world-class running training after the Olympics when he competes at the 2022 World Marathon Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
CALGARY’S PARALYMPIAN AIMS FOR GOLD
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are still a few weeks away, but Calgary athlete Meghan Mahon is already taking inspiration.
“Watching the opening ceremonies and the athletes take the gold just gives you these butterflies, just to know that in a few weeks we’re going to be doing the same,” she said.
Mahon is the center of the Canadian women’s goalball team. She was born with a genetic disease of the cone-rod retina (achromatopsia) and has only 10 percent vision.
But what she lacks in vision, she finds in her passion and love for the game.
“We want this, we want the gold and just by seeing how happy the athletes are and knowing how much work has been put into it, we want it even more.”
Mahon, who moved to Calgary two years ago, is entering his second Paralympic Games.