January 27, 2006
She's happy to do itGoyette says yes to being Olympic flagbearer
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
CALGARY -- She said yes!
Normally that's a sign on the scoreboard after a stadium marriage proposal. But here yesterday it was the end of the flag flap.
Maybe there should have been a place on the ballot in the federal election for flag-bearer. But if there had been, it's highly unlikely Danielle Goyette would have been elected.
Even if they had just listed women hockey players, Hayley Wickenheiser and Cassie Campbell would probably have been picked.
But it's Danielle Goyette. And she'll do. She'll do, do just fine, thank you.
For starters, it's a great birthday present.
"This is the best birthday present of my life. I'm going to turn 40 on Monday and I will never forget this one.
"To be named flagbearer for the greatest country in the world means everything to me. I know this is my last Olympics and to have this honour ... "
How can you not be happy for her? This is a woman who marched in the opening ceremonies for the first time in Nagano '98 with a different kind of tear in her eyes.
"My dad passed away the day before," she remembered.
Goyette is someone who just doesn't have that household name sizzle. Yet, when you think about it, she fits the flagbearer qualifications perfectly. She's had a multi-Olympic career, she's won a silver medal at one Olympics and a gold at another. She's been a trailblazer in women's hockey, a member of Canada's national team since it was formed. She's won 21 international medals, including 17 gold. She has worn the Canadian jersey at more World Hockey Championships (eight) than anybody, including Ryan Smyth.
EVEN FOR CHERRY
Goyette was presented with the flag at Canada Olympic Park here yesterday morning by 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games flagbearer Catriona Lemay-Doan.
"I've been wearing the maple leaf on my jersey for a long time and it's always an honour - but today it's special.
"Growing up in a small town in Quebec, just playing for fun and not until I was 15 and not really having practices until I was 30 ... well, to all the young kids in Canada, it shows if you have a passion and pursue goals with all your heart ..."
Yes, she'll do, thank you.
"I'll carry our flag for all of Canada."
Even for Don Cherry.
The flag flap started when it was revealed that several high-profile Canadian athletes - including Beckie Scott, Clara Hughes, Cindy Klassen and Pierre Lueders - had asked not to be nominated.
Cherry, who doesn't have a clue what is involved, called that an insult to all Canadians.
To anybody who has spent any time at all around athletes at the Olympics, the flag flap was ridiculous.
For athletes involved in the opening ceremonies, the whole process takes up about 10 hours from the time they leave the village.
Marching, especially when you are carrying the flag, is the easy part. Very few athletes who have ever competed on the opening weekend go to the ceremonies.
Besides, Canada is entering an era of athletes coming to compete instead of to be seen and enjoy the experience.
Goyette, to be sure, has a game against Italy the next day. But it's versus Italy. She could be forced to skate with the flag instead of a stick and Canada would still win big.
"I have a lot of respect for those athletes. I know most of them. They need to do what they need to do to achieve their goals. I'm carrying this flag for them."
EAST, WEST, MALE, FEMALE
If it's controversy you're looking for here, look elsewhere.
You can find it in the old French, English, male, female, East, West thing that has been a history with Canadian flag-bears. Sylvie Daigle was flag-bearer in Albertville, Kurt Browning in Lillehammer, Jean-Luc Brassard in Nagano, Catriona Lemay-Doan in Salt Lake.
Now Goyette. For Vancouver 2010, bet all your Olympic coins on an English-speaking male from the West.