Hamelin another strong Canadian flag bearer candidate

Canada's Charles Hamelin celebrates winning the men's 1,500 metres short-track speed skating final...

Canada's Charles Hamelin celebrates winning the men's 1,500 metres short-track speed skating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2014. (LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters)

Steve Buffery, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:38 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - A lot of Canadian fans and media types are pushing to have long-track speed skater Gilmore Junio carry the Maple Leaf in the closing ceremony as a reward for giving up his spot in the 1,000-metre event to teammate Denny Morrison, resulting in a silver medal for Morrison.

It's a wonderful gesture. However, if short-track speed skater Charles Hamelin wins another gold in Sochi, that will make him the only Canadian to win more than three gold medals at the Olympics.

He already has a gold in the men's 1500m here. Another gold would give the native of Sainte-Julie, Que. four Olympic championships in total and surely move him to flag-bearer status.

Plus there's a political aspect to this: Hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser from Shaunavon, SK. carried the flag in the opening ceremony. If Hamelin wins two medals at these Games and is not given the flag for the closing, the French-Canadian media will go nuts. Generally, the Canadian Olympic Committee tries balance the flag bearers, English-French-English-French.

LONG ROAD TO A GOLD

There's a back story largely unknown to Canadians about the 1,000m long track race Wednesday. Every Canadian knows by now the story of Junio. The winner of the race, Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands, has suffered numerous physical injuries along with terrible bouts of depression in the years leading up to the Sochi Olympics. Groothuis still works with a psychiatrist to keep his depression under control.

"I think I was very close to suicide," he said. "It's shocking to say that. Anyone can create a hell inside their head, and it all goes pitch black."

PACKING UP SHOP

Canadian women's singles skaters Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman were dispatched to Mannheim, Germany after the opening ceremony to get a few days of serious training in away from the distractions of the Games.

"We found out we could get on a direct flight from Frankfurt to Sochi, then we started to explore (the area) and the German skating people directed us towards Mannheim and it's right from the airport, 30 minutes," said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director. "So I went there after Paris (the Trophee Eric Bompard Grand Prix in November) and checked it out and they've just been beyond accommodating."

Osmond and Daleman are training at the same rink and staying at the same hotel that the Canadian team stayed in before the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.

CRAZY RUSSIAN ANTICS

Exotic dancers working in a Krasnaya Polyana nightclub have painted their bodies with the Sochi logo, the Olympic rings and the faces of Russian president Vladimir Putin and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. Of course, we only heard this second-hand.

WHO WEARS SHORT SHORTS?

The Norwegian curling team left their famous pants in the athletes village during a visit to Olympic Park because the clothing manufacturer's logo is on the pants, and it's not an official Games sponsor. So the crazy Norwegians visited the park wearing only uniform jackets and boxer shorts. And this is the country that gave us the Nobel Prize.

POLITICAL CLAP TRAP

The International Olympic Committee's 'no political banners' policy was enforced at the Canada vs. U.S. women's ice hockey game Wednesday when several spectators were forced to take down a banner reading "Snowden and Russia heart (love) Canada." In this case, good for the IOC.

QUOTES OF THE DAY

Russia's Tatyana Ivanova explaining why she's not enamoured with the idea of a women's double luge event: "Oh no, it would be too much. Two girls in one room is a mess. If two girls were on a luge, they would pull each other's eyes out." And that would make it really difficult to steer.

"The first two shots were OK but I felt my knees shaking after that. I was close to stopping, but only girls do that. I am a man, I told myself that I can't do that." Biathlon 20-kilometre individual silver medallist Erik Lesser of Germany. Apparently Lesser's picture is going to be posted on all future women's biathlon targets.

"My grandpa is a hero to me. He never won an individual medal so he probably is as happy as a schnitzel." Lesser trying to crawl out of his "girls" crack.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

twitter @beezersun


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