August 29 - Canada's top ten short track speed skaters, who between them have 35 World Championship podium finishes and six Olympic medals, have today become the first athletes nominated for the nation's Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic squad.
The five males - Charle Cournoyer, Michael Gilday, Charles Hamelin, François Hamelin and Olivier Jean, and five females - Marie-Ève Drolet, Jessica Gregg, Jessica Hewitt, Valérie Maltais and Marianne St-Gelais, will now be looking to secure Olympic qualification at the four remaining International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup events.
"Today's ceremony and the receiving of our Olympic team jackets is a special occasion for us athletes," Hamelin, a double gold medallist at Vancouver 2010, said.
"This is a significant step for us and our team as we officially become part of the great Canadian delegation.
"Our hard work is really starting to pay off and rest assured that my teammates and I will wear the Maple Leaf with pride and properly represent our country.
"One thing I can confirm is that the short track team will be ready once the Sochi Olympic Games roll around."
The nominated athletes will contend for Sochi 2014 spots in the 500 metres, 1,000m and 1,500m, with three places available in each distance.
For any country to secure all three placements racers must finish in the top 32 in the 500m and 1,000m events, and top 36 in the 1,500m race.
Meanwhile, in the women's 3,000m relay and men's 5,000m relay, only the top eight teams will qualify to race at next year's Games.
"Canadians were born to skate and we are delighted that these amazing athletes are the first to be nominated by Speed Skating Canada to contend for the opportunity to wear the Maple Leaf in Sochi," Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut said.
"On behalf of the entire Canadian Olympic family, I want to congratulate all of you on this remarkable achievement and wish you the best of luck in the remaining four World Cup events later this year."
Steve Podborski, a Lake Placid 1980 Olympic bronze medallist and Chef de Mission of Canada's Sochi 2014 team - which has been set the target of finishing on top of the overall medal table, added that the athletes "know exactly what's required to come first".
The announcement came as Hilton HHonors was unveiled as the team's Official Hotel Supplier.
Prior to being named on the final Canadian Olympic team, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee's team selection committee.
The official final team announcement is expected to come towards the end of January 2014 ahead of the Sochi Olympics on February 7 until 23.
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