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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Our competitors psyched for Games starting gun

Posted: 07/27/2012 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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LONDON -- From the pool to the tennis courts, and even back home across the Atlantic, Canadian athletes are getting their game faces on as the opening ceremony of the London Olympics approaches.

Some athletes took to social media to express their excitement or support for the Canadian team.

"Loving the Olympic village! Great energy here!" modern pentathlete Melanie McCann wrote on Twitter.

Twitter has proved a popular voice for athletes and supporters alike, but at least one Canadian Olympian will be taking a tweeting hiatus.

"Exiting twittersphere," posted rower Lindsay Jennerich. "Time 2 focus & put 12 yrs training 2 the test. Thanx everyone for the support. Will b back to tweet the parties!!"

The Canadian team received well wishes from Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, who was a medal favourite in hurdles before coming up short at the Olympic trials.

"Good luck to all my friends and competitors at the Olympics, can't wait to see you all back on circuit," tweeted Lopes-Schliep, who won a bronze medal in Beijing.

Swimmer Julia Wilkinson, a backstroker from Stratford, Ont., had her nails painted red, white and gold this week to show her Olympic spirit.

"They're really obnoxious," she laughed.

They're also an example of the swagger Canada's swim team is bringing to London. Off the podium in 2004 and winning a one bronze in 2008, the nation's swimmers are targeting a three-medal performance in London and hope to place swimmers in 13 to 15 finals.

"It's completely different," Wilkinson said. "Four years ago, it was 'we hope we can make some finals.'

"Now, it's 'who is going to be the first one to win a medal?' We've kind of come in with this swagger, and we believe we can do it."

Victoria's Ryan Cochrane won Canada's only swimming medal in Beijing when he claimed bronze in the 1,500-metre freestyle. He's a medal favourite in that event again, but he also thinks he can win some hardware in the 400 metres. The 23-year-old was fifth in the event at the world championships last year.

"I'm really excited to race that event, especially after last year's world championships," Cochrane said. "It was the first time -- was in the mix, in the medal hunt."

While the swimmers are using past experience as motivation in London, tennis star Milos Raonic mentally prepared for his first Games by talking to Wayne Gretzky.

"He told me that the competition is a big thing for sure, but he said the most special thing was meeting other athletes and just learning from them and hearing different stories," Raonic said.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2012 C2

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