Canada has appointed triple Olympic rowing gold medallist Marnie McBean as its Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, it was announced today.
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) made the announcement on Parliament Hill in Ottawa as part of official Canada Day celebrations.
McBean made two appearances in the Olympic Games and won four medals.
She is just one of two Canadians to have won three Olympic gold medals, along with Kathleen Heddle, her partner in the coxless pair at Barcelona 1992 and in the double sculls at Atlanta 1996.
They were also members of the champion eights crew at Barcelona 1992 and won bronze in the quadruple sculls in Atlanta 1996.
"Looking back, it’s incredible to me that I was able to have so many amazing Olympic moments," the Vancouver-born McBean said.
"It’s like, how did 'someone like me' do that?
"At my first Games, I’m not sure which was the bigger asset, the volumes of our training and preparation or the fact that we were young and naive.
"As Kathleen and I approached our second Games, the expectation that we would win threatened to take away all the joy but we found a way to keep the lead. It’s true that winning never gets easier."
McBean won a total of 12 World and Olympic medals during her career before her retirement in 2000 due to a back injury.
COC President Tricia Smith, herself a four-time Olympian and Olympic silver medallist in rowing, was delighted with the appointment of McBean for Tokyo 2020.
"I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Marnie over the years and have always been amazed by her accomplishments," Smith said.
"She is an incredible individual.
"Since her own sport success, she has been an inspiration and mentor for many of Canada’s athletes, helping them succeed even beyond the field of play.
"She is a legend in our sport and I know she will be equally as exceptional as Chef de Mission."
McBean has been an active athlete mentor and advocate since hanging up her oars.
"In Sydney , when the chance to medal disappeared with a blown disc in my back, I learned more about myself, kindness and the Olympics, than I could otherwise have imagined," she said.
"I suppose the door to my becoming a mentor opened right then."
McBean, now 51, has worked with the COC in the recent past as a specialist in Olympic athlete preparation and mentoring.
Canada enjoyed its best performance since Barcelona 1992 at Rio 2016 when they won a total of 22 medals, including four gold, under Chef de Mission, three-time Olympic cycling medallist Curt Harnett.
"Canadians used to be uncomfortable declaring their confidence on the world stage, and it showed in our performance - we were putting our goals in chalk instead of stone," McBean said.
"Without arrogance, now Canadians bravely project readiness and our ambitions indelibly in stone.
"To find that courage, the message I share with elite athletes, school kids and corporations, is that there are no superheroes out there.
"It’s ordinary people like us, like you, who achieve incredible things."
McBean claimed one of her main objectives at Tokyo 2020 will be to create a safe and welcoming environment for Team Canada to speak openly about their passions outside sport.
"It is our role as the Mission Team to do everything we can so that when an athlete’s Olympic competition begins they are in peak condition," she said.
"Athletes shouldn’t arrive to their field of play exhausted and stressed from trying to negotiate social and cultural barriers.
"Our team is going to be a safe and open space for self-expression and dialogue.
"We make ourselves stronger when we include everyone, consider all perspectives and weigh critical feedback."