CALGARY — The stands may have been empty in Japan, but Calgary bars were filled to capacity Friday morning to cheer on Canada’s women’s soccer team to a gold medal victory over Sweden.
Fans at Trolley 5 Brewpub painted their faces, draped Canadian flags over their shoulders, and watched with baited breath as Julia Grosso’s golden penalty shootout kick soared into the back of the net.
“My nerves are shot and it was amazing, just absolutely amazing,” said Shawna Baldwin who coaches a U-12 girls team with Calgary Villains Soccer.
“This is for my girls!”
Another fan named Megan was almost brought to tears watching the gold medal ceremony.
“It gave me everything, it was everything,” she said. “I’m so proud to be Canadian, thank you so much Canada, it was such a good performance and it gave me life.”
Meanwhile, Calgarians got to see first hand what an Olympic gold medal looked like right before their eyes at viewing party.
Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski won gold in women’s eight rowing and just returned from Tokyo a few days ago.
“This is super cool,” she said.
“It really makes you realize how big of a deal it is for the community and 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 bigger than us.”
Canadian wrestling team assistant coach Mitch Ostberg was also in attendance.
He agreed that the Olympic spirit is alive and well back home.
“The sport spectacle is so amazing, it’s such a wild ride to get to the actual outcome and what an amazing experience.
“To have this day end with a gold medal for the women’s soccer team that has endured through several Olympics and had some heartbreaking moments is just such a great story.”
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
The referee isn’t someone the typical sports enthusiast would cheer for, but one 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 basketball team between USA and France.
His father John is a former international referee himself who called games dating back to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and even took the court with NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Like father, like son, he couldn’t be prouder.
“Since Michael got his assignment at the Olympics, our phone has been ringing off the hook and this is just so fantastic that we’ve received a lot of congratulations,” John said.
“You just hang on to every call he makes and you don’t want him to make any mistakes so it’s a little nerve-wracking, but we’re just so excited.”
RACE TO THE FINISH
The Olympics famously end with a ‘race to the finish’ as the world’s best long-distance runners go toe-to-toe in the women’s and men’s marathon final.
Calgary marathon runner Trevor Hofbauer is about to embark on that 42.2-kilometre journey on Saturday afternoon as more than 100 of his biggest supporters enjoy a viewing party at Tool Shed Brewing.
Hofbauer, who works at Strides Running Store in Calgary, won the Olympic Marathon trials in October of 2019, winning the race and finishing with the second-fastest time in Canadian history of 2:09:51.
His run, which was well under the Olympic standard of 2:11:30 earned him a spot on the Canadian team headed to Tokyo.
“He’s feeling great,” said Strides owner Jeremy Deere.
“Trevor is a tall guy so we’ll be able to see him over other people’s shoulders at the start at least and we’re hoping he can stay in the mid-pack for much of the race. For those of us that are friends of his and have trained with him, it’s going to be spectacular, he has worked so hard for this goal.”
The viewing party is also a fundraiser for Hofbauer to continue his world class running training after the Olympics when he competes in the 2022 Marathon World Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
CALGARY PARALYMPIAN GOES FOR GOLD
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are still a couple more weeks away, but Calgary athlete, Meghan Mahon is already getting inspired.
“Watching the opening ceremonies and athletes winning gold just gives you those butterflies, just to know that in a few short weeks, we’re going to do the same thing,” she said.
Mahon plays the centre position on the Canadian women’s goalball team. She was born with genetic cone-rod retinal condition (achromatopsia) and only has 10 per cent vision.
But what she lacks in vision, she gains back in her passion and love of the game.
“We want that, we want gold and just seeing how happy the athletes are and knowing how much work has been put into it, we want this even more.”
Mahon, who moved to Calgary two years ago is entering her second Paralympic games.