A few members of the Canadian World Championship team spoke to the media on a conference call Wednesday from their training camp in Ostia, Rome, as they prepare for the Championships set to begin on July 23rd in Budapest, Hungary
Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse, Hilary Caldwell and Sandrine Mainville, all 2016 Olympic medalists, along with High Performance Director John Atkinson, spoke, and there was a general underlying theme.
That theme was confidence. The four women spoke again and again about how much more confident they are heading into the meet after how they performed in Rio.
After her surprising four medal performance last summer, Oleksiak spoke about how she’s managing having more expectations on her this time around. She talked about how she hasn’t changed her approach at all, and that even though she’s still a bit nervous and not exactly sure what to expect, she’s definitely feeling more confident with the racing she’s done in the last year. In terms of expectations, she said she doesn’t pay attention to anyone’s other than her own, and she hopes to be right around her own best times.
She was also asked about racing Sarah Sjostrom, responding by saying it’s a big race, it will be tough, but in the end she can only worry about and control herself. Oleksiak and Mainville also spoke about the 400 free relay, and how they hope to continue to inch closer and closer to the Australians and Americans.
In terms of general expectations as a team, Caldwell said it adds a bit of swagger and confidence to them, along with expectation, but she believes they can deliver. She also mentioned that losing the 200 back to Masse at Trials “lit a fire to be faster” in Budapest, and that she doesn’t like losing “her event”.
Asked about expectations on her after her incredible performance at Canadian Trials, Masse echoed Oleksiak, saying she’s just going to focus on herself and what she can control and all else will fall into place. On Masse, Caldwell also mentioned that Kylie does an amazing job of not stressing herself and letting outside expectation get to her.
Atkinson spoke about the women’s team, and how they have been developing year-by-year since 2012 and have been constantly improving. On the men’s team, he acknowledged that it’s taken them longer to rebuild, particularly after the retirements of Brent Hayden in 2012 and now Ryan Cochrane, but at the end of the day the expectation is that they continue to improve. He spoke highly of the continuous development of Yuri Kisil, Markus Thormeyer and Javier Acevedo.
Atkinson also spoke briefly about next summer. Unlike 2014, Canada won’t have a Trials meet for the Commonwealth Games. Instead, the meets this summer, Worlds, WUGs, World Juniors and Canadian Nationals, will all count towards selection for the Commonwealth Games, which will be in April of 2018. They will then have a Trials meet in July for the Pan Pacific Championships, which take place in August in Tokyo.