Former sprint star Bruny Surin drew inspiration from Canadian athletes at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Canada has climbed to the podium 24 times in Tokyo to place 11th in total medals, despite facing some of the tightest COVID-19 restrictions in previous months of any country competing. And the pandemic means no fans are allowed in Tokyo.
“Athletes really show they are resilient,” he said.
Surin, a member of Canada’s 4×100-meter relay team that ran to gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was named team Canada’s chef duty for the 2024 Paris Olympics on Friday, and reflects about the unique Olympics last summer.
The 54-year-old worked on the men’s 100-meter content analysis for the French TV show, and arrived at Tokyo’s Olympic stadium the day before the final.
“I thought, my God, this is going to be crazy. There’s no audience and the atmosphere is bad,” said Surin, who is also in Tokyo in a role with sponsor Hudson’s Bay Company. “And then I witnessed the world records, and also watched Andre (De Grasse) win bronze in the 100 meters with PB (personal best), gold in the 200 – show them Even though I have a huge problem with COVID, the athletes have shown that yes, we can get through it, and that is a huge inspiration to everyone, and gives us the courage to move forward. forward. ”
Chef de Mission, or “head of duty,” is an ambassador for the entire team to lead during and during the Olympics. Surin is excited to help guide Canada’s athletes.
“Since retiring, I have always told myself that I want to work with athletes, share experiences with athletes, act as a mentor to athletes, give the world next generation,” Surin told The Canadian Press. “And I have always wanted to be involved in the Olympic movement. Having this opportunity, for me, is like a great gift, and I am really looking forward to collaborating with the athletes and the COC (Canadian Olympic Committee). ”
The 54-year-old is one of Canada’s most decorated sprinters, winning two world 4×100 titles, along with world silver in the 100 meters in 1995 and ’99. He also had two 60-meter indoor world titles in 1993 in Toronto and 1995.
Surin still holds the Canadian 100-meter record with a time of 9.84 seconds with Donovan Bailey.
Surin is a four-time Olympic athlete who debuted as a long jumper in 1988. Since retiring shortly after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he has barely missed a beat, working in every Olympics since then as a broadcaster.
Surin, born in Cap-Haitien, a small Haitian city, and moved with his family to Montreal at the age of seven, was Canada’s chef at the 2018 World Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
“I really loved it, and I told COC that it was something I wanted to do (again) in the future, and the opportunity came, and I jumped in the air,” laughs Surin.
Surin said he’s happy to have had several years cheering for athletes, not just in athletics.
“I told the COC that I wanted to attend all the competitions, I wanted to learn about the athletes and be with them through Paris, and that is a great privilege from now on,” he said.
Once a role given to Canadian sports managers, the volunteer chef position is now being filled by former Olympic athletes. Canadian speed runner Catriona Le May Doan is Canada’s chef at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, while rower Marnie McBean holds the position at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Past chefs include cyclist Curt Harnett (2016), skier Steve Podborski (2014), swimmer Mark Tewksbury (2012), speed runner Nathalie Lambert (2010) and diver Sylvie Bernier (2008).
In addition to his mentor role, team Canada’s problem-solving chef duties could erupt into a firestorm. McBean guided the team through one of the most terrifying times in Olympic history, after the Games were postponed for a year due to the pandemic.
Surin said he wants to reach out to previous chefs for feedback.
Members of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame remain active in the sports field. He has his own background, clothing line, and business as the company’s team builder. His Bruny Surin Foundation, which helps promote healthy and active lifestyles for young people, awards $20,000 in scholarships annually to student athletes.
COC said he was chosen not only for his achievements on the track, but also as a philanthropist, motivational speaker and role model for young athletes.
“From his incredible athletic achievements to his exceptional work in the community, Bruny is a true ambassador for sport. His infectious passion for sport and teamwork will serve him well in his role as Chef de Mission,” said Tricia Smith, four-time Olympian and COC president.
Surin is also a sports dad. His daughter, Katherine, one of Canada’s top 400-meter runners, almost missed a spot on the Tokyo team. She is completing her MBA at Laval University. Kimberley Ann, another daughter, is a former tennis player and now a documentary filmmaker.
The Paris Olympics take place from July 26 to August 11.
This Canadian Press report was first published on May 6, 2022.