Team Canada athletes working on the coronavirus frontlines

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

“Trust your training” is an oft-used phrase in an athlete’s mental preparation before a big competition.

For some Team Canada athletes, this quote has even more special meaning at the moment as they have traded their sports equipment for personal protective equipment and joined the frontlines in this big fight against COVID-19.

Joannie Rochette

The Vancouver 2010 bronze medallist received her medical degree from McGill University on Friday April 24 and the following day filed her application to work in a long-term care facility. The figure skater completed her last university internship in geriatrics and her temporary role is important to her because her mother, who died just a few days before Rochette’s Olympic competition began, also worked in a long-term care home.

Heather MacLean

MacLean represented Team Canada in the pool at London 2012 and now works at Mount Sinai Hospital in the in high-risk deliveries and fetal procedures unit. In an interview with CBC, the former swimmer said that the stress she feels when she goes to work during the pandemic is a lot like the stress of an Olympic year. Anxiety, insomnia, and fear of uncertainty are all old friends who have come back in her life these days.

Michelle Toro (Williams)

Toro won an Olympic bronze medal with the 4x100m freestyle relay team at Rio 2016 . Today she is a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She reuses many of her focus techniques from swimming at the hospital, which helps her do a better job and manage the stress related to the COVID-19 crisis.

Hayley Wickenheiser

A Hockey Hall of Famer and five-time Olympic medallist with Team Canada, Wickenheiser is in her final year of medical school. Even if she cannot act as a doctor at the moment, the Canadian has used her voice and popularity (and that of Ryan Reynolds) to help support frontline workers with her Conquer COVID-19 project and PPE drive.

Maryse Turcotte

Turcotte finished fourth at the Sydney 2000 in weightlifting, in addition to representing Team Canada four years later in Athens 2004. After retiring, the Quebec-native turned to medicine. Today, she is responsible for the mental health of seniors as a gerontopsychiatrist at the Sainte-Croix Hospital in Drummondville. Given the plight of seniors in the province of Quebec during the pandemic, the weightlifter is all the more touched and passionate about his vocation.

Susan O’Connor

O’Connor won Olympic silver with Cheryl Bernard’s team at Vancouver 2010. For the past two decades, the curler has also been a respiratory therapist in Calgary and works closely with COVID-19. She recently wrote a blog for Curling Canada describing what it’s like to work on the frontlines during a pandemic.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

Two months ago, Duvernay-Tardif won the Super Bowl and today the medical graduate from McGill University works in a long-term care facility. The NFL champion is among the 11,000 people who responded to the Quebec Premier’s call to fill the urgent shortage of staff in retirement homes.

Mikey Ray

Former Canadian skateboard champion Mikey Ray is on the front lines with respondents and doctors working hard to treat people infected with coronavirus.

Kim Clavel

The boxer, a NABF flyweight champion, has returned to her first career to lend a hand to the Quebec health system. Clavel, who was to defend her title on March 21 but saw her fight cancelled due to the pandemic, is now working in a long-term care home as a nurse.

There are also Team Canada athletes who have not yet completed medical school, but it is only a matter of time before they too join the fight.

Maxime Dufour-Lapointe

The eldest of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters embarked on her medical studies after retiring from freestyle skiing in the summer of 2018. While she is still working towards her medical degree, Maxime has also been sharing some of her medical knowledge and learnings from her years on the national moguls team on social media to help people navigate through the pandemic.

Maïté Bouchard

After representing Team Canada at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, Bouchard’s goal is to be on the start line at Tokyo 2020. With the postponement of the Games, the Quebecer is pursuing her medical studies at Sherbrooke University.


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