With the 2012 Olympics one year away, here's a look at 10 Canadian athletes to watch for:
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Track — Her bronze in the 100-metre hurdles was Canada's only track medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing. The 28-year-old from Whitby, Ont., is expecting her first child in September, but has continued to train through her pregnancy and aims to reach the podium in London. Lopes-Schliep dominated her event in the 2010 outdoor track season. She won the inaugural Diamond League crown, and finished the summer as the world's No. 1-ranked women's hurdler. Her time of 12.52 seconds at the London Grand Prix was the fastest time in the world last year.
Perdita Felicien, Track — Canada could have a one-two punch in the 100-metre hurdles if Felicien returns to her old form. The 30-year-old from Pickering, Ont., won her 10th Canadian championship this year and finished sixth in a Diamond League event in Rome. The former world champion, who is now training in Calgary, fell in the final at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, then missed the Beijing Games with a foot injury.
Dylan Armstrong, Track — In a world of big men, the 30-year-old shot-putter from Kamloops, B.C., is currently one of the biggest names. Armstrong leads the Diamond League circuit after five of seven events and his toss of 22.21 metres is the top throw in the world this season. The six-time Canadian champion also has some unfinished business at the Olympics. At the 2008 Beijing Games he missed a medal by just one centimetre, about the length of a finger nail.
Mary Spencer, Boxing — The inclusion of women's boxing at the London Games opens the door for Spencer to punch her way to the podium in the 75-kilogram class. The 26-year-old native of Windsor, Ont., is the first Canadian fighter to win three world titles. She has won eight Canadian titles and several Pan American and Continental Americas championships. Canada hasn't won a boxing medal since heavyweight David Defiagbon took the silver at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. Only one Canadian boxer qualified for the Beijing Games.
Adam van Koeverden, Kayak — His favourite distance isn't on the schedule, but that won't stop the former world and Olympic champion from aiming for the podium in London. Van Koeverden won gold in the K-1 500 metres in 2004 at Athens and took silver in Beijing, even though he broke his own world record in the heats. The 500 metres has been replaced by the more TV-friendly 200 metres in London. The 29-year-old from Oakville, Ont., was named Canadian flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies in Beijing. He was touted as a double medal threat but finished a disastrous eighth in the 1,000 metres, the race he won bronze in at Athens.
Tara Whitten, Cycling — What's arguably Whitten's strongest event — the omnium — will make its Olympic debut in London, where the Canadian will be the favourite to claim gold. The 31-year-old from Edmonton is the two-time defending world champion in the omnium, which is to cycling what the decathlon and heptathlon are to track and field, with six events over two days. Whitten will make her Olympic debut after originally dreaming of representing Canada at the Games in cross-country skiing. She competed at the 2005 world cross-country championships on a team that included Canadian star Beckie Scott and didn't start training seriously for competitive cycling until 1988. She captured four cycling medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India and carried Canada's flag in the closing ceremonies.
Clara Hughes, Cycling — Returning to the London Games as a cyclist is coming full circle for Hughes, who is the only Canadian to win medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. The 38-year-old, who was born in Winnipeg but now lives in Glen Sutton, Que., won two bronze medals on her bicycle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She switched to speedskating at the age of 28 and won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals over three Winter Olympics in the gruelling 3,000 and 5,000-metre races. Last November Hughes announced she wanted to cycle in London. So far this year she's won the road race and time trial at the 2011 Pan American Championships and finished first in the Tour of the Gila, winning two stages.
Alexandre Despatie, Diving — It's no stretch to say Despatie is one of the best divers Canada has ever produced. He's won two silver medals competing at three Olympic Games and is the only diver to win world champions in three categories. He also was the first Canadian man to win an Olympic diving medal. What's really hard to believe is the Laval, Que., native is only 26 years old. Despatie burst onto the scene by winning the gold medal in tower diving as a 13-year-old at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Prior to the Beijing Games he battled back problems and missed seven weeks of training with a broken foot, but still managed to place second in the three-metre category.
Ryan Cochrane, Swimming — He broke an eight-year Canadian drought in the Olympic pool by winning a bronze in the 1,500-metre race at the 2008 Games. Since then Cochrane has been establishing himself as a talent on the international stage. The long and lanky 22-year-old from Victoria proved his Olympic performance was no fluke by winning silver and bronze at the 2009 world championships in Rome and added a silver at the 2011 championships. Last year he won the 800 and 1,500 metres at the Pan Pacific Swim Championships and was second in the 400. He also won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.