Penny Oleksiak more confident than ever heading into 2020 Olympics
TORONTO -- Olympic swimmer Penny Oleksiak burst onto the scene four years ago in Rio, but is expecting bigger and better things in 2020.
Oleksiak, who won four medals in Brazil as a 16 year old and served as Canada’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies, told CTV News that she is ready to build Olympic resume in Tokyo this summer.
“I think I’ve never really felt more confident than I have going in this year,” she said Tuesday. “I’m just super excited to go and see what I can do.”
Oleksiak also won the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s top athlete in 2016. Since the Olympics, she has won two bronze medals at the 2017 FINA World Championships and three silvers at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
“I’ve definitely changed a lot as a person and I’ve learned a lot over the past few years,” she said. “I’ve got to experience a lot of really cool opportunities.”
While Oleksiak went into the 2016 Games with few expectations, she admits things will be different this time around.
“Before Rio I was just excited to go and cheer on Team Canada, but now there’s almost this pressure on my shoulders,” she said. “I’ve taught myself over the last few years to deal with that pressure and use everything I did in Rio as something to empower me.”
Oleksiak is promoting the RBC Training Ground, a program designed to tests athletes and identify which Olympic sport they might excel in. Each year, the program funds 30 athletes who hope to pursue an Olympic dream.
“You get to do all these tests that pick your perfect sport for you,” she said. “I think it’s super awesome that they brought that around and it’s inspired a lot of athletes.”
It’s still too early to tell exactly which events Oleksiak will be competing in as she still needs to qualify for the Games.
The Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials run from March 30 to April 5 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.