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Duo confident they'll 'represent Team Manitoba well'

Cyclist, wrestler honoured to be flag-bearers at Canada Games

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Amber Wiebe, 16, (left) and Karlee Gendron, 21, were glad to make the team, but are thrilled to be Team Manitoba's flag-bearers.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Amber Wiebe, 16, (left) and Karlee Gendron, 21, were glad to make the team, but are thrilled to be Team Manitoba's flag-bearers. Photo Store

Karlee Gendron and Amber Wiebe will lead Team Manitoba into the opening ceremonies at the 2013 Canada Games. Both athletes have been selected as flag bearers for the nationally televised event.

Gendron found out about the honour while she was at the national championships for cross country biking in Ontario.

"I was so excited. I've been to lots of games before, but this is such an honour to represent Manitoba and walk into the stadium with the flag," Gendron said.

'It was always really special to represent Manitoba and Canada. It's going to be loud, it's going to be fun, it's going to be nerve-wracking, it'll be all of those things'

-- Janine Hanson

The 21-year-old from Winnipeg will compete in cycling events while in Sherbrooke and she has set her sights high heading into the Canada Games.

"I'd like to win most of the events I enter, so the cross country, the sprint eliminator, the time trial, the road race and the criterium for mountain biking and road cycling," Gendron said. "And I'd really like to help along Team Manitoba in the relay. We have a young, up-and-coming team headed for great development and I think we could do really well. I just want to have fun and represent Team Manitoba well."

Gendron will compete in her fifth multi-sport games. She was a speedskater at the 2007 Canada Winter Games and picked up a bronze medal. In 2009 she was a silver medalist in cycling at the Canada Summer Games.

Wiebe will compete on Team Manitoba's wrestling team. The 16-year-old from Morden was a silver medalist at the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games and most recently won gold in the 49 kg division at the 2013 Canadian Cadet and Juvenile Championships.

"It's an amazing feeling. It's an amazing event and I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to be the flag-bearer and lead Manitoba out there," Wiebe said of the honour.

Wiebe doesn't know what it will feel like to walk out with her province's flag, but she expects "A lot of energy and a lot of excitement. It's a big opportunity. Especially at this young, I'm one of the youngest flag bearers as I have looked into and just being able to have this opportunity is going to be amazing."

Olympian Janine Hanson will join Team Manitoba as the honorary team captain. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist in rowing is looking forward to motivating the future Olympians and going back to a time where she competed in the Canada Games.

"It was always really special to represent Manitoba and Canada. It's going to be loud, it's going to be fun, it's going to be nerve-wracking, it'll be all of those things," Hanson said. "But that's part of the experience and they're just going to have a great time and perform well because they've all been working so hard at it."

Team Manitoba's expectations are going to be high once they arrive in Sherbrooke, Que. The provincial government put $1-million into a performance centre to better train athletes heading into the 2017 Canada Games which Winnipeg will host.

Team Manitoba Chef de Mission Ted Bigelow has watched the athletes train for years and is excited to see what this year's Team Manitoba will accomplish.

"These athletes have been working out here three times a week. In terms of physicality, we think we have the most prepared team," Bigelow said. "There's nowhere else in the country that's done this so our expectations for these guys is definitely higher. In terms of number of medals and putting a number on that, I don't want to tempt fate, but we'll probably end up with around 32 to 38 medals."

kyle.jahns@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2013 D4

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