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Soccer star kickin' it on Walk of Fame

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Canada's soccer star Christine Sinclair will join the Walk of Fame on Oct. 27 in Toronto.

CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Canada's soccer star Christine Sinclair will join the Walk of Fame on Oct. 27 in Toronto.

The accolades have poured in since Christine Sinclair's stirring performance at the 2012 London Olympics, but now Canada's top female soccer player will really be a star.

The Canadian team captain who held the country spellbound as she scored three times against the powerhouse United States in the Olympic soccer semifinals, and then made an impassioned denunciation of some questionable refereeing, is to be honoured with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

The 30-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., will be inducted during the Walk of Fame festival in Toronto on Saturday. The ceremony will be shown on Global TV on Oct. 27.

"This is one thing that has definitely not sunk in," Sinclair said in a recent interview. "I can't imagine it.

"You look at the people involved or who are inducted and I can't believe I'm even associated with it."

It is only the latest honour for the gifted striker, who took the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as The Canadian Press female athlete of the year and won the Lou Marsh Award as Canadian athlete of 2012.

She had been one of the world's best female players for more than a decade, but it took her Olympic performance at Old Trafford, the famous home of Manchester United, to launch her to national stardom.

Heavy underdogs to the Americans, Sinclair played perhaps the game of her career, scoring three times to give Canada a 3-2 lead.

Then Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen made an almost unheard-of call against Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod for time-wasting, giving the U.S. a free kick inside the penalty area. Then came another dubious call of a penalty shot because the free kick hit a defender's arm from point blank.

The Americans tied the game and then got the game winner in extra time.

Canadian fans were outraged at what they felt was biased officiating, and Sinclair voiced their frustration in an emotional on-field TV interview after the match in which she said the team felt "cheated" out of a victory by the ref.

Unfazed by the controversy, the Canadian team bounced back to beat France in the bronze medal game.

Despite not winning gold, Sinclair was the easy choice to be Canada's flag-bearer at the Olympic closing ceremonies.

She was later given a four-game suspension and fined an undisclosed amount by FIFA for "misconduct."

Sinclair is by far Canada's most prolific scorer, with 145 career international goals. That ranks third all-time behind Americans Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm.

When not playing for the national team, Sinclair plays pro soccer. She won a championship with Western New York in the defunct Women's Professional League in 2001, but moved to the Portland Thorns for the Inaugural National Women's Soccer League season this year.

She scored a goal as Portland won 2-0 in the league final on Aug. 31.

Sinclair went to University in Portland and now considers it home.

"I never really left," she said. "I've had to play in different parts of North America, but this was always home."

But now she will be honoured once again in her home country.

The Walk of Fame recognizes Canadians from all areas of the entertainment business. Other inductees this year are Terry Fox, Oscar Peterson, Alan Thicke, Bob Ezrin and Craig and Marc Kielsburger.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 19, 2013 D6

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