Penny Oleksiak is now Canada’s most decorated Olympian, captivating her seventh medal — a bronze — in the women’s 4×100-metre medley relay Sunday morning in Tokyo.
But in the celebration and excitement of the historic moment, standing beside teammates Kylie Masse, Maggie Mac Neil and Sydney Pickrem, the 21-year-old went to great lengths to let everyone know it’s not lonely at the top.
“I’m glad I didn’t win it in an individual [event] because this just makes it 10 times sweeter knowing that I’ve accomplished this history with girls that are also making history,” she said. “This is only the beginning for Team Canada and swimming. We were young in 2016 [at the Rio Olympics] and we’re still young and going to hit our peak soon.”
Considering the performance that Oleksiak and her teammates put on in the past nine days, that’s saying something.
The foursome of Masse, Pickrem, Mac Neil and anchor Oleksiak powered their way to a bronze medal, finishing in a Canadian-record time of three minutes 52.60 seconds behind gold-medallist Australia (3:51.60) and the U.S. (3:51.73), who took silver.
“I was absolutely shitting myself,” she said as her teammates burst out laughing. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it.”
Mac Neil pointed to struggles the team had in training because of Canada’s COVID restrictions in the past 18 months.
“It’s crazy. Coming into these Games I just wanted to do the best I could. We had one of the most strict lockdowns in the world,” said Mac Neil, who added bronze to her gold in the 100m butterfly and silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay. “I’m really grateful to do this with these girls.”
Oleksiak, Mac Neil and Masse, who also achieved silver in each of the 100m and 200m backstroke, are the first Canadian trio to win multiple medals at a non-boycotted Olympics in the same sport.
“I’m really grateful to do this with these girls.” Oleksiak, Mac Neil and Masse, who also achieved silver in each of the 100m and 200m backstroke, are the first Canadian trio to win multiple medals at a non-boycotted Olympics in the same sport.