The symbolism — of a dream delayed, not denied — was abundant in the timing.
Canada unveiled its team uniforms Monday for the Tokyo Olympics, one day after the originally scheduled date of the closing ceremony. The Summer Games were postponed due to COVID-19. The new dates are July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021, with more than 60 Island or Island-based athletes expected to compete.
“It’s a solid sign of encouragement that they are planning as if it is going to happen amid all the uncertainty,” said veteran Bianca Farella, following a workout at Westhills Stadium with the Langford-based Canadian women’s sevens rugby team.
“It took me a couple of weeks to come to terms with it when it was announced the Olympics weren’t happening this year. So this kit announcement today is a real mood-booster and adds another level of motivation for the athletes,” added the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist, and only the second woman to reach 150 career tries in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Emma Entzminger of Victoria, infielder on the Canadian women’s softball team that is also favoured for a medal in Tokyo, concurred.
“This situation is not exactly what we wanted, but the way we look at it, is that it’s an extra year to train and prepare for the Olympics,” said Entzminger.
“We are working out individually, and are still not together as a national team, but the players have stayed connected through social media and supported and pushed each other in that way.”
The 26-piece Canadian kit is again designed by Hudson’s Bay in a long-term sponsorship originally engineered by George Heller, who became Hudson’s Bay CEO after successfully heading the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games organizing committee. Heller has said he was motivated to make the deal after being inspired by the athletes’ commitment, drive and dedication while competing at Victoria ’94.
The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics collection is now available at the company’s stores across the country or online with 10 percent of the sales going to the Team Canada Return to Sport program established this year.
“Anytime you wear the Maple Leaf is an honour, said Entzminger.”
The opening ceremony jacket is red with a Maple Leaf centered on the back with 13 stripes representing Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. The jeans will be white. The medal-podium jacket features the word Canada in strong, chain-stitch lettering across the back. The closing ceremony jacket is denim with a gold Maple Leaf and pays tribute to Tokyo in hipster, paint-splash style. The collar will feature the dates 1964 and 2020 to denote, respectively, the first time Tokyo held the Summer Olympics and the date of this year’s original schedule before the postponement. The T-shirt underneath will be black. There will also be a Paris 2024 patch on the jacket pointing to the following Summer Olympics.
“I love the gold accents because it highlights what is our ultimate goal at the Games,” said Farella, who has used some of the down time this summer to prepare to write her MCAT exam Friday for medical school entrance.
“The attention to detail — especially the homage to Tokyo street art in the closing-ceremony ensemble — is outstanding.”
The multi-sport Games experience is much different than a single-sport world championship, noted Entzminger.
“It’s the only time you get to march in with fellow-Canadian athletes from various other sports, which you don’t normally get to do in just your sport, and that is what makes it so special and unique,” said the Lambrick Park Secondary graduate, who played softball in the NCAA for San Jose State.