Advertisement
City

Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 2, because we’re pumped for gold

Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 2, because we’re pumped for gold

The posse of Torontonians who’ll invade this summer’s London Olympics is determined to return with more medals than ever. Here, five of our top-calibre athletes assess the sacrifices they’ve made on the climb to the podium.

Archery
Crispin Duenas, 26, Scarborough

“I competed at the Beijing Olympics, and I’ll be up against most of the same people this year. I’m ranked first in Canada and in the top 20 in the world, and the pressure to win gold is immense. I train twice a day, six days a week. I’m strong—to pull the bow’s string requires 52 pounds of pressure, and I do that 300 times day—but the best archers also need to be mentally strong. I need to be able to lower my heart rate on command to make the shot I want. If I don’t know how to manage my mind, the game is over.

“During training, I’ll create tournament-like pressure by simulating distractions, and I’ll practise in wind and rain. I spend a lot of time watching myself on video, slowing it down to 30 frames a second so I can see exactly what’s going on. I also train with electrodes hooked up to my body, so I can see how much of each muscle I’m using at each point in a shot, and stand on balance pads that resemble a Wii Fit board.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 13 years old, and it has meant some sacrifices. I didn’t party when I was in high school or university, because I didn’t have any free time. Some of my friends couldn’t understand that, and we drifted apart. Luckily, my girlfriend, Ashlee Tanner, is an archer, too, so she understands the commitment I’ve made.”

1 Crispin Duenas Archery
2 Sinead Russell Backstroke
3 Rosie MacLennan Trampoline
4 Jason Burnett Trampoline
5 Tobias Oriwol Backstroke

Backstroke
Sinead Russell, 18, Burlington

“I absolutely hate losing. My parents were both swimmers, and they’re very competitive. My mom taught me to swim when I was three—she’s still my coach. I’ve been competing since I was four, but I only got serious about it at age 10.

“When I get in the water, it’s as natural as walking. To train, I go running, I do Pilates, and I do mixed martial arts twice a week, which is good for cardio and for strengthening my legs. I cope with the pressure by reading. My teammates tease me when we travel because my suitcase is always over the weight limit. I’ll read anything. One time I read three novels in one day.

“I just graduated from high school, and this September I’ll be going to the University of Florida on a scholarship. Generally, I’m good at balancing my education and my training, even though I missed 12 weeks of class last year. Today I’m ranked first in Canada in the 200-metre backstroke, and I hold national records in both the 100- and the 200-metre backstroke. I’m psyched for London.”

1 Crispin Duenas Archery
2 Sinead Russell Backstroke
3 Rosie MacLennan Trampoline
4 Jason Burnett Trampoline
5 Tobias Oriwol Backstroke

Trampoline
Rosie MacLennan, 23, Downtown

“Beijing was my first time competing at the Olympics, and I came seventh. I’m now ranked first in Canada and in the top five in the world, so I’m excited for London. I come from a high-energy family. I’m the youngest of four, and we’re all the same: we can’t sit still. I was always jumping off beds and couches, so trampoline was a natural fit.

“Over the years, trampoline has pretty much become my identity. I missed out on much of frosh week because I was training six days a week. I graduated in 2011 from U of T with a degree in phys. ed. and health, and I’m starting my master’s in exercise science in the fall. My apartment is full of foam rollers, stretching straps and BOSU balls.

“Every week, I attend nine practices, three gym sessions and a Pilates class. I take about 5,000 jumps a week. Trampolinists typically last until their late 20s or early 30s, so I’ve got one or two Games left. I know my time is now.”

1 Crispin Duenas Archery
2 Sinead Russell Backstroke
3 Rosie MacLennan Trampoline
4 Jason Burnett Trampoline
5 Tobias Oriwol Backstroke

Trampoline
Jason Burnett, 25, Richmond Hill

“Trampoline has been my life since I was 10. My love of the sport is sometimes a bit of a problem: I dropped out of a graphic design program in college, then a liberal arts program, and then firefighting because nothing compared to trampolining. Now I’m enrolled in a religion and philosophy double major at U of T and trying to juggle that with my training.

“The last two years have been gruelling. In 2010, I was filming a demo reel for some stunt work—I was Michael Cera’s stunt double in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—when I landed a double flip wrong, snapping my fibula and stretching all the ligaments. I was out of commission for six months. I’m on the trampoline now nine times a week, and in the weight room three. I’m squatting 400 pounds, which is a record for me. I’ve never been this strong.

“I’m an extreme kind of guy—I hold world records for highest degree of difficulty in practice and in competition. In Beijing, everything came together perfectly, but I ended up winning silver. London will be a chance for redemption.”

1 Crispin Duenas Archery
2 Sinead Russell Backstroke
3 Rosie MacLennan Trampoline
4 Jason Burnett Trampoline
5 Tobias Oriwol Backstroke

Backstroke
Tobias Oriwol, 27, the Annex

“My girlfriend lives in New York City, and because of my crazy schedule—I’m in the pool 10 times a week and in the gym four—sometimes I won’t see her for six weeks at a time. When I’m not swimming, I eat. A typical meal for me is two steaks, four giant potatoes and a full head of broccoli, plus I have a protein smoothie before bed. I also go for all-you-can-eat sushi on Bloor and just go nuts.

“I’ve been swimming since I was six, and over the years I’ve won more than 400 medals. Every door in my apartment and my parents’ place jingles when you open it because there are medals hanging on the doorknobs.

“After the 2008 Olympics, I took a break and completed a master’s in urban planning at the Harvard School of Design. But then I got the itch to swim again and started training. Swimming can be mentally isolating. Your face is in the water and you’re alone with your thoughts. During practice, my sports psychologist hooks electrodes to my scalp to measure when I’m in an ideal focused state.

“I’m now ranked first in Canada in the 200-metre backstroke. Internationally, I’m 25th. London will be my last try. I’m excited to give it all I’ve got, then move on to the next stage in my life.”

1 Crispin Duenas Archery
2 Sinead Russell Backstroke
3 Rosie MacLennan Trampoline
4 Jason Burnett Trampoline
5 Tobias Oriwol Backstroke

NEVER MISS A TORONTO LIFE STORY

Sign up for This City, our free newsletter about everything that matters right now in Toronto politics, sports, business, culture, society and more.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.
You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Latest

The Chase: This condo dweller always wanted a house. When the market cooled, she pounced
Real Estate

The Chase: This condo dweller always wanted a house. When the market cooled, she pounced