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Friday, August 12, 2016
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

She’s done it again. After winning two medals on the first two days of competition at the Rio Olympic Games, Monarch Park Collegiate student Penny Oleksiak provided an encore to end all encores. First she anchored the Women's 4x200m freestyle relay team, which also includes former TDSB students Brittany MacLean (Silverthorn CI, 2012) and Kennedy Goss (Northern SS, 2015), to a bronze medal. Then she capped off an incredible week by winning gold in the Women's 100m Freestyle, finishing in a tie with US swimmer Simone Manuel and setting a new Olympic record time of 52.70. 

The gold-winning feat was all the more remarkable considering Oleksiak was seventh at the 50m mark. But the youngster with a reputation as a strong finisher battled back in a thrilling race to win the gold. 

With her performance in the 100m free, Oleksiak scores Canada’s first gold of the 2016 Games. It is Canada’s first gold medal in swimming since Barcelona in 1992, and the first in the pool by a Canadian woman since the Los Angeles Games in 1984.  Oleksiak also becomes the first person born in the new millennium to win an Olympic gold medal.

“Everyone dreams about becoming an Olympic champion,” she said at a media conference afterwards. “It’s always just been a dream.”

Some dreams do come true.

At 16, Oleksiak is the youngest member of Canada’s Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro. Besides setting a new Olympic record in the 100m freestyle, she also set a national record in the 100m butterfly, finishing in 56.46 seconds. Her four medals are the most by any Canadian athlete at a single Summer Games.

Earlier this week, Monarch Park Principal Cynthia Abernethy said that the entire school community is bursting with pride over Oleksiak’s accomplishments. “When teachers ask students ‘what did you do on your summer vacation,' I think Penny's story will be the most thrilling,” she added.

Oleksiak is no stranger to international success. In 2015, she won a total of six medals at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Singapore (silver in the 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle, in addition to bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay, silver 4x200m freestyle relay, and gold in the 4x100m mixed freestyle relay).

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