LONDON - Quebec athletes make up just under a quarter of Canada's Olympic team, yet they won all of the country's first four medals in London.
A pair of bronze in synchronized diving, another bronze in judo and yet another bronze in women's weightlifting came from Quebec athletes in the first four days of competition.
Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois was quick to make political hay out of the development in Quebec City, citing it as another reason the province should be independent.
"We could continue to win our medals," she said. "I'm sure of that."
Politics aside, Quebec can toot its own horn when it comes to Olympic sports. The province financially supports its athletes more than any other province.
Montreal's sports facilities are approaching world class, thanks to a multimillion-dollar renovation already underway to create a sport institute with the 1976 Olympic Games venues.
The only other two Canadian centres with sport infrastructure of similar quality are Calgary and Vancouver/Whistler, B.C.
What's on offer in those places is geared towards winter sport because of the 1988 and 2010 Winter Games. Toronto will be able to cater more to elite athletes once the 2015 Pan American Games are held there.
Quebec athletes stepping up for Canada in the opening days of the Games was also related to scheduling. Diving and judo competition fell on the opening days.
The national diving and judo centres are based in Montreal, drawing athletes from the local population. Canada's geographic imbalance of medals will likely even out over the next couple of days as rowers and trampoline gymnasts from outside Quebec are expected to produce medals.
Canada's men's eight rowing crew, which doesn't include any Quebec athletes, won silver on Wednesday while Mission, B.C., swimmer Brent Hayden raced to bronze in the 100-metre freestyle.
But give Quebec credit as a sport powerhouse when it comes to producing both summer and winter Olympians. Under the Team Quebec program, the government will spend $65 million in 2011-2012 on its athletes and the construction of the sport institute.
"The culture in terms of the passion and commitment to high-performance sport in Quebec is quite profound," says Own The Podium head Anne Merklinger.
"Quebec, to this point in time, they are a leading province in terms of investing in high-performance sport. They provide direct financial support to coaches and athletes on the national team and no other province does that."
Weightlifter Christine Girard, one of Canada's three bronze medallists Tuesday, can vouch for Quebec's superior sport support. She grew up in Rouyn-Noranda, but now lives and trains in White Rock, B.C.
"I know what I'm talking about because I have lived in both systems and I can definitely say athletes are better supported and better served in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada," she said.
"Personally, my funding was $15,000 less when I decided to move out west with my husband a couple of years ago. The support we're getting in Quebec is better, not only financially, but the services we get from professionals are free. We have to pay for all of that in B.C."
An aquatics centre of excellence was established at Montreal Olympic Park in 2007, but Quebec was a diving hotbed long before that. As often happens, when an athlete rises to the top of the world, those who train with them often follow.
Current Canadian team assistant chef de mission Sylvie Bernier won springboard bronze in 1984, serving as a role model for Annie Pelletier (bronze, 1996) and Anne Montminy (silver, bronze, 2000).
They were followed by Emilie Heymans, a St-Lambert diver who earned a medal at each of the last four Olympics. Her first was a synchronized silver with Montminy. Now, it's Jennifer Abel picking up the torch.
The Laval native won synchro springboard bronze with Heymans on Day 2 and is a contender in the individual springboard later this week. Roseline Filion, who won synchro tower bronze with Meaghan Benfeito on Tuesday, says it was Pelletier who inspired her at age nine to start diving.
Alex Despatie of Laval, Que., has two Olympic silver medals in men's diving on his resume and looks to add a third here in springboard.
When the Institute du Sport is complete at Olympic Park, it will have synchronized swimming, diving, swimming, water polo, judo, gymnastics, fencing and short-track speedskating among its resident sports.
With former Olympic medallist Nicholas Gill coaching Antoine Valois-Fortier to judo bronze in London, a similar cycle could start in that sport.
Filion dives in an environment where all her competitive needs are met. She looks forward to sharing that environment with other athletes from her province.
"From the weight room, to the dryland (training) area, we have psychiatrists, nutritionists, fitness coach, massage, physio, we absolutely have everything we need," she said. "They're just going to build it more and more to get everybody at Olympic Stadium, so we get to see the short-track speedskating training at the same time as us in the weight room. We're really grateful because we have that much support in Quebec."
— With files from Canadian Press reporter Robert Laflamme
Christine Sinclair carried the flag for Canada and the hosts staged another star-studded show to close off the London Games.
Canada's athletes celebrate at the Olympic Closing Ceremony. (Frank Gunn/CP)
Christine Sinclair carries the flag for Canada at the Olympic Closing Ceremony. (CP/Frank Gunn)
British band 'The Spice Girls' perform during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Posh At The Games
Victoria Beckham performs as Posh Spice with British band The Spice Girls during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Strut Their Stuff
British model Naomi Campbell, fourth right, walks with other models during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Still Got It
Brian May, guitarist of the British rock band Queen, performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Baby, You're A Firework
Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
The Olympic flag is handed over to the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the host of the 2016 Olympic Games. (AP)
Soak It All In
French athletes sit and watch as the Olympic Closing Ceremony come to a close. (AP)
An athlete holds up the British flag during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
And after 16 days or winning, losing, scoring and missing, the London Games have come to an end. Canada's medal count remained at 18, while the U.S. would go on to to win a gold in men's basketball. Russia defeated Brazil in men's volleyball to take home a gold and the Italian men's water polo team fell to their Croatian counterparts to secure a silver medal.
Spain's Got Game
Spain's Sergio Llull reacts during the men's gold medal basketball game against USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Kiss The Podium
Members of the gold medallist team from Russia kiss the podium during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Alekno's In The Air
Members of team Russia lift their coach, Vladimir Alekno, into the air after defeating Brazil in a men's gold medal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Right Jab To the Face
Russia's Egor Mekhontcev, right, fights Kazakhstan's Adilbek Niyazymbetov in a light heavyweight 81-kg gold medal boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. Mekhontcev won the gold and Niyazymbetov won the silver.
Gold-medalist Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, left, competes with Kenya's bronze-medalist Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, center, and silver-medalist Abel Kirui in the men's marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Pink And In Sync
The team from Russia performs during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana reacts after being declared the winner over Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar in their flyweight 52-kg gold medal boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Italy's Emanuele Birarelli (15) reacts following the final point of a 3-1 win over Bulgaria in the men's bronze medal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
There's A Reason The Call Him King James
United States' LeBron James dunks during a men's gold medal basketball game against Spain at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
The Smell Of Sweet, Sweet Victory
Croatia's Ivan Buljubasic sniffs his flowers after receiving his gold medal at the men's water polo gold medal ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. Croatia beat Italy 8-6 in the gold medal game.
Canada wins yet another bronze medal in men's K1 200m kayak event, and Mexico defeats Brazil for the gold medal in men's soccer. Canada had an another Olympic upset and lost the bronze medal in the 4x100 relay due to a disqualification. Jamaica set a world record.
Tearin' Up Our Hearts
Canada's Justyn Warner is comforted after the team was disqualified from third place in the men's 4x100-meter relay.
Jamaican Us Crazy
Jamaica's Usain Bolt reacts as he finishes ahead of United States' Ryan Bailey in the men's 4 x 100-meter relay.
Britain's Mo Farah kisses the track after winning gold in the men's 5000-meter final during the athletics.
Love On Top
Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan celebrates after he beat Jaime Yusept Espinal of Puerto Rico for the gold medal during the men's 84-kg freestyle wrestling competition.
Race Walk It Out
Russia's Elena Lashmanova celebrates winning the women's 50-kilometer race walk.
United States mb Foluke Akinradewo, left, and Destinee Hooker react during the women's gold medal volleyball match against Brazil.
Hwang Woojin, of South Korea, and his horse Shearwater Oscar, fall down after the horse bucked after the starting bell sounded to start their run in the equestrian show jumping stage of the men's modern pentathlon.
From left to right Spain's Elliot 6m crew Angela Pumariega, Sofia Toro Prieto, and Tamara Echegoyen celebrate after winning the gold medal at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in Weymouth and Portland, England. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Mexico's Hector Herrera (6) and Mexico's Oribe Peralta (9) celebrate winning the gold medal with teammates in the men's soccer final against Brazil.
Bronze medallist Belarus' Liubou Charkashyna cries after a performance during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final.
Gold Medal Ribbon
Russia's Daria Dmitrieva performs during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final.
Settles For Seventh
Canada's Catharine Pendrel (2) competes in the Mountain Bike Cycling women's race.
Australia's Got Talent
Australia's Jared Tallent competes in the men's 50-kilometer race walk.
Jake Herbert of the United State competes against Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan (in blue) during the men's 120-kg freestyle wrestling competition.
Amro El Geziry of Egypt, left, and Nicholas Woodbridge of Great Britain swim the 200-meter freestyle during the swimming portion of the men's modern pentathlon.
Fencing Is Modern
Britain's Samuel Weale looks up during the fencing section of the men's modern pentathlon.
Canada wins another bronze in men's open-water marathon and placed 4th in synchronized swimming. U.S. women's team set a world record in the 4 x 100 relay and Bahamas beat the men's team in the last stretch of the race.
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius competes in the men's 4x400-meter relay final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium.
Bahamas' Ramon Miller beats United States' Angelo Taylor across the line to win the men's 4 x 400-meter relay.
France's Renaud Lavillenie clears the bar in the men's pole vault final during the athletics.
Kenya's Hellen Onsando Obiri leaps over United States' Morgan Uceny during the women's 1500-meter final during the athletics.
United States' Morgan Uceny reacts after falling during the women's 1500-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa De Olza)
Throw It Up
South Korea's head coach Hong Myung-bo is hoisted up by his players after the team won their men's soccer bronze medal match.
They've Got The Beat
The team from Russia performs during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around qualifications at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Bump, Set, Boom
Bulgaria's Viktor Yosifov (12) spikes home a point against Russia during a men's volleyball semifinal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Brazil's Squel Stein is carried off the field in a stretcher during a BMX cycling women's semifinal run at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. Stein fell off her bike after she landed on the grass following a big jump in the first half of the course. The 21-year-old Stein secured her best result in a major competition earlier this year when she reached the world championships final. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
The team from Russia competes during the synchronized swimming team free routine final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Russia won the gold medal in the event. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Swimmers dive into the Serpentine to start the men's 10-kilometer marathon swimming competition in Hyde Park at the 2012 Summer Olympics Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)