Lamazing experience

DAVE DORMER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Canada Day had even more significance for Eric Lamaze this year as he celebrated the country's birthday for the first time as an Olympic champion.

An individual gold and team silver medallist for Canada at the Beijing Olympics last summer, Lamaze, 41, said yesterday was just a little sweeter compared to year's past.

"I have to tell you, as a Canadian, when we came into the stadium in Hong Kong (where the equestrian events were held) I think we got the biggest cheer," he said.

"I still look back at some pictures from the Olympics and everywhere you see Canadian flags and people with flags painted on themselves. The support we had was just tremendous.

"It's great to be Canadian. I'm very proud for our sport and our team, and what a great moment we had last summer.

"Now, we're all here -- the entire (Olympic) team is here competing."

While thousands of fans spent a leisurely Canada Day watching show jumping at Spruce Meadows, it was business as usual for Lamaze as he prepared to compete in a full slate of events.

"We have to concentrate because we ride for good prize money," he said.

"It's the first day of the tournament and we all have a strategy to try and peak our horses on the weekend.

"These classes are important, but there's some great prize money on the weekend."

Looking at his Olympic achievement, Lamaze called it a highlight of his storied career riding internationally for Canada.

"I think it's one of those things you dream of and when it happens, it's a dream come true," he said.

"It makes you hungry for more stuff because you realize that it can happen."

Lamaze's best finish yesterday came in the Bantrel Cup, where he finished second aboard Takeoff.


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