Player’s Own Voice podcast: Marnie McBean on a mission

Player’s Own Voice podcast host Anastasia Bucsis gets an informatiion packed visit with Canada’s new Chef de MIssion,

Rower, triple-gold medallist diving into new role for Tokyo 2020

CBC Sports · Posted: Oct 02, 2019 7:03 AM ET

Marnie McBean, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in rowing, speaks after being named the Olympic chef de mission for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games during the Canada Day noon show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

No Canadian has seen greater Olympic glory than Marnie McBean.

But the rowing legend says one of her most memorable moments came at the Sydney Games in 2000, where she was injured outside of competition.

The support she got from her fellow athletes and from Team Canada changed her outlook dramatically, and made the Olympic movement the enduring focus of Marnie McBean’s life.     

Canada’s chef de mission for the Tokyo Olympics comes into studio to share her understanding of Olympic sport culture with Player’s Own Voice podcast host Anastasia Bucsis. Beyond the individual insights she has picked up from years of mentoring, McBean has invested serious thought in the areas where the Olympics struggle. 

How do host cities justify the cost of building so much infrastructure? What is the work that still needs to be done to keep athletes safely away from steroid use? And are we any nearer to clarity in the shifting sands of gender and competition?

The chat raises more questions than answers, but the questions matter if sustainable Olympics are the goal.

Listen here

New Olympics boss Marnie McBean knows how to bring attitude. For 2020, she’s championing diversity

For Marnie McBean, being named Canadian chef de mission for the 2020 Summer Olympics is the cherry on a career devoted to sports and mentoring of athletes, writes Rosie DiManno.

By Rosie DiManno Toronto Star Columnist Wed., July 3, 2019

STAR COLUMNISTS OPINION

At the Barcelona Olympics, as I recall, Marnie McBean had a Fan Boys Club of gaga reporters from Canada.

They were all in thrall to the beauteous and sassy rower from Toronto.

Of course, she could have broken every one of their necks with those mesomorphic, ball-busting, oar-driving thighs.

Twenty-seven years later — good golly, 27 years — McBean rolls her eyes when a scribbler reminds her of the gaga adulation. Suggests maybe the sports correspondents merely appreciated her way with a pungent quote. “I’ve never been able to check what comes out of my mouth. Hey, bring Marnie over.”

The female rowers on Team Canada were goddesses. And I hope McBean forgives me for saying so because the discussion at hand is actually how sexist coverage of women athletes has been over the decades.

“Silken was described as a Nordic Valkyrie with the thousand-watt smile.”

Another eye-roll. Silken Laumann, famous for training with men, showed her Iron Man chops by winning bronze at Barcelona in single sculls a mere 10 weeks after suffering horrific injury — fractured fibula — in a boat collision during training.

The conversation around sportswomen, the stereotypes and lazy metaphors, really began to change at those 1992 Games.

“Our group came through and it was super-cool to be reading these articles where they were talking about us being competitive and aggressive,” McBean recalls. “Because that wasn’t how women were covered in sports. We had muscles. It was still being questioned: What was feminine? Now I look at athletes and how proud they are of the physicality. I would say the Canadian extreme is Kallie Humphries.” Two-time Olympic bobsledding champion. “She just loves showing her body and her muscles and how strong she is.”

McBean, now 51, wryly remembers being issued a gender-ID card at the Olympics. At one time, only Princess Anne, an Olympic equestrienne, was permitted to forgo gender testing.

“The needle has moved.”

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