Rempel enjoys life in spotlight

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:06 AM ET

When you're a Canadian amateur athlete, you better get accustomed to labouring in obscurity. In the four years between Olympic Games, most athletes get very little notice from the general public.

Federally-protected witnesses garner more attention, so you'd better enjoy your time in the spotlight for as long as you can.

This weekend, Olympic silver medallist speed skater Shannon Rempel got to share the stage with other Olympic and Paralympic athletes when the RBC 2010 Flag Tour stopped at CanWest Global Park.

"Even going to the Olympics, not a lot of people even know who you are," said Rempel, who helped win the silver in the women's team pursuit at the Winter Olympics earlier this year. "But when you win a medal and you have that attached to your name, a lot of people recognize you."

Making its fifth of seven stops across the country, the tour was created to promote the excitement and spirit of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and celebrate achievements at the 2006 Winter Games.

Rempel was joined by national women's hockey team member Sami Jo Small and Paralympic wheelchair athlete Colin Mathieson from Winnipeg.

"There was a lot of advertising for it and a lot of people had heard about it so it was pretty cool," said Rempel, the 21-year-old 2003 World Junior champion. "I think my name is now more recognized in Winnipeg, which is nice."

Rempel admits she still finds it a little weird when people ask for her autograph. But she knows that a return to obscurity is just around the corner.

"I think over the next couple of years, we'll be flying under the radar," said Rempel, who also finished 16th in the 500m and 24th in the 1,000m in Turin. "(We'll be) kind of forgotten about until just before the next Olympics. I've got to focus on what I need to do in those four years."

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Brandon's Michael Burgess came up short in his quest for two titles at the Canadian Junior National Racquetball Championships in Burlington, Ont.

Burgess teamed up with Brandon's Scott Campbell to win the boys' 18 and under doubles title Friday. But on Saturday Burgess lost the boys' 18 and under singles final. Campbell lost in the semifinals, preventing an all-Manitoba final.

GOLDEN GAL: Winnipeg judoka Olia Berger struck gold in the 78kg and over class to lead the way at the Dax Cup, yesterday in Celje, Slovenia. Berger, whose father Mark won a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics, was in her first action after missing six months with a knee injury.


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