Top 12 Canadian reasons to watch the London 2012 Olympics Staff

7/25/2011 10:50:05 AM

The Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium have a stated goal for London 2012, anticipating Canada will enjoy a top-12 finish in the overall medal standings. Looking ahead to next summer, the nation is poised for its best medal performance ever at a fully-attended Olympic Games, and here are 12 Canadian reasons for viewers to watch and experience the London 2012 action.

12. The jersey number worn by Canada's greatest female soccer player ever, Christine Sinclair. As one of 10 nominees for the 2010 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, Sinclair is expected to lead the way for her teammates in London next summer. Despite the team's disappointing performance in the 2011 World Cup, the women's team will be hoping to win the nation's first Olympic medal in a team sport since the Canadian men's basketball team won silver at the 1936 Games in Berlin.

11. The age of Canada's top-ranked women's triathlete, Paula Findlay, during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games when triathlon made its official Olympic debut. Canada's Simon Whitfield went on to win the inaugural Olympic gold medal in men's triathlon, and now both Findlay and Whitfield together will shoulder Canada's medal hopes in the sport at the London 2012 Games.

10. The number of Olympic Games Canadian show jumper Ian Millar will have attended when he competes in London 2012 next summer, setting the Olympic record for attendance by a single athlete. Millar and Eric Lamaze, Canada's only multiple medallist in Beijing 2008, will lead Canada's equestrian efforts in London.

9. The all-time total of Olympic diving medals won by Canada. The London 2012 team is positioned to add to this count, with five of the nine medals attributed to veterans Émilie Heymans (two silver and one bronze) and Alexandre Despatie (two silver), who both return for their fourth Games. The team is also bolstered by young talent such as Jennifer Abel, Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion.

8. The number of oarsmen in rowing's biggest boats who will once again be expected to produce podium finishes for Canada. The men's eight are the defending Olympic champions, while the Canadian women's eight look for a return to Olympic success, having finished fourth in 2008. Canada's lightweight rowers, led by Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Tracy Cameron, are also projected for success in London. Eight also represents the number of Olympic medals Canada has won in freestyle wrestling during the last eight Games. The London 2012 team is poised to keep this streak alive thanks in large part to a deep and talented group of women wrestlers across various weight classes, including Beijing 2008 gold medallist Carol Huynh.

7. The date in August 2012 to which Canada can look forward with great anticipation. August 7th will feature several legitimate Canadian medal opportunities, including two-time Olympic medallist Simon Whitfield in men's triathlon, two-time Olympic silver medallist Alexandre Despatie in men's 3m springboard diving as well as Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien in the 100m hurdles. Other Canadian medal hopefuls competing this day include the duet in women's synchronized swimming as well as two-time defending World champion Tara Whitten in track cycling, all making this day one to watch.

6. The number of Olympic Games, including London 2012, since Canada's last gold medal in boxing courtesy of Lennox Lewis at the Seoul 1988 Games. This stat will look to change next summer when Canada's Mary Spencer takes to the ring with the official Olympic debut of women's boxing. Spencer is a two-time world champion in the 66kg weight class and now fights in the 75kg division, claiming the 2010 World title.

5. The number of Olympic medals Canada has won in the men's C-1 1000m event in the sport of canoe/kayak. Canada will be looking to add to this all-time total with Mark Oldershaw, who became the fifth member of the Oldershaw family to compete at an Olympic Games in 2008. Oldershaw will lead a strong Canadian contingent in the canoe/kayak sprint events, which includes three-time Olympic medallist Adam van Koeverden.

4. The position in which Canada finished in 10 different events at the Beijing 2008 Games. Seven of Canada's fourth-place finishers return for another shot at the podium in London 2012, including weightlifter Christine Girard, swimmer Mike Brown, mountain biker Catharine Pendrel and shot putter Dylan Armstrong, who missed a Beijing 2008 bronze medal by just one centimetre.

3. The number of medals Swimming Canada has gone on record as stating its London 2012 goal will be. The team is led by Ryan Cochrane, the Beijing 2008 bronze medallist in the men's 1500m free. Freestyle sprint specialist Brent Hayden will also challenge for a podium position, while on the women's side, Annamay Pierse is the world record holder in the 200m breaststroke. Three also represents the number of medals Canadian trampolinist Karen Cockburn has won in her Olympic career, making her the discipline's most decorated athlete ever. London 2012 would mark her fourth trip to the Games.

2. The number of the world's top female hurdlers Canada can boast as its own thanks to Perdita Felicien and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. Felicien is focused on winning the one award missing in her career – an Olympic medal. Meanwhile, Lopes-Schliep is the defending Olympic bronze medallist and will be looking to return to top form in time for London following the announcement that she is pregnant with her first child.

1. The number of medals needed by the incomparable Clara Hughes to claim the title "Canada's most decorated Olympian" all to herself, as she is currently tied with former long track speed skating teammate, Cindy Klassen, with six career medals. Hughes, who won her first two career Olympic medals in cycling at the Atlanta 1996 Games before turning to long track speed skating, returns to cycling in London 2012 with her sights set on another podium finish.