Christine Sinclair might be the best relatively unknown athlete in Canada. The 30-year-old soccer star, the captain of the Canadian Olympic team that’s competing in the London Games starting July 27, is well known in countries where soccer is a way of life and, in fact, her name is part of the conversation when people talk about the best female players in the world.
In Canada, though, you might get nothing more than blank stares if you asked ordinary Canadians to say what they knew about Sinclair.
“You always know something can happen when Christine Sinclair is on the pitch,” John Herdman, head coach of Canada’s national women’s soccer team, told Stephen Brunt of Sportsnet Magazine. “Every team that wins a World Cup needs one of those players.”
Canada has a realistic chance of winning a medal in women’s Olympic soccer. The team is ranked sixth going into the competition, the second time it has qualified for the Olympics. In 2008, Canada finished eighth.
Hopes are higher this year, mainly due to the on-pitch magnificence of Sinclair, the seven-time Canadian women’s soccer player who was born in Burnaby but made her soccer mark in the U.S. college ranks.
A star at the University of Portland, Sinclair, now 29, set an all-time Division I career record with 39 goals. In 2005-06, she was woman athlete of the year in U.S. college athletics.
In Canada, though, you could show her photo to people in downtown Toronto, Taber or Tisdale and only the most serious of soccer fans would have a clue who she is. With the Canadian team’s profile at the London Olympics, though, that could change.
“I think what you will see this summer . . . is that her profile will continue to increase,” said Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, in a CBCsports.com story.
“I do believe she is deserving of a Canadian athlete of the year award and it is coming,” he said. “It’s always difficult on a team sport that plays internationally and sometimes is not on TV to gain that exposure. “
An Olympic gold, silver or bronze medal will certainly bring that exposure and then all of Canada will know about the greatness of Christine Sinclair.
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