Community & Current Events

Why it matters that Canadian women are kicking butt at Rio

sexism at Rio Olympics

Meghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion Image by: Getty Images Author: Andrea Karr

Community & Current Events

Why it matters that Canadian women are kicking butt at Rio

Over the past week, as the world’s best athletes meet in Brazil to compete for Olympic gold, one story has been dominating international media: sexism in sports. But it hasn't hurt the performance of Canada's female athletes.

When American swimmer Katie Ledecky broke the world record in the 400-meter freestyle, NBC commentator Rowdy Gaines said, “Some people say she swims like a man," a sexist pseudo-compliment that implied men swim better than women.

Upon Corey Cogdell-Unrein's win in trapshooting, The Chicago Tribune posted the headline "Wife of a Bears' lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics"—completely ignoring her accomplishments in favour of her husband's.

It's disheartening to hear women's accomplishments treated as less important or less impressive than men's, but if there's any good news to be found, it's that sexism is on everyone's radar in a big way. Since the last summer Olympics, Amy Schumer (who talks about sexism on the regular) has exploded in popularity, Hillary Clinton is on the path to become the first female U.S. president and we're getting woman-powered reboots of classic movies like Ghostbusters.

Neither Ledecky or Cogdell-Unrein have commented on these media gaffes (though Twitter certainly did)—maybe because this happens to them, and female athletes in general, all the time. We think Canada's female athletes are responding in the most awesome way, though: by winning almost all of our medals so far. 

Here's a little recap.



Canada's 4 x 100-metre freestyle relay team; Credits: Getty Images

1. 4x100m freestyle relay, bronze: The first Canadian medal of the Rio 2016 Olympics went to swimmers Sandrine Mainville, Chantal van Landeghem, Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak



Penny Oleksiak medals; Credits: Getty Images

2. 100-metre freestyle, gold: At only 16 years old, Penny Oleksiak became the first Canadian female swimmer to win 4 Olympic medals in the same games! Last night, she won a gold in the 100-metre freestyle, tied with American Simone Manuel. If Oleksiak wins another medal, she will break the legendary Cindy Klassen's historic record as the olympian with the most medals in one year.  

Read more: 5 things you need to know about Olympic athlete Penny Oleksiak



Kylie Masse during the 100-m backstroke; Credits: Getty Images

3. 100-metre backstroke, bronze: Kylie Masse tied for third place with a 100-metre time of 58.76 seconds.



Women's rugby team at Rio 2016; Credits: Getty Images

4. Rugby, bronze: This year marks the Olympic debut of women’s rugby, and Team Canada garnered the bronze medal in a 33-10 win against Great Britain.

Read more: Olympic rugby player Jen Kish on taking her team to Rio



Meghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion; Credits: Getty Images

5. 10-metre synchronized diving, bronze: Quebec’s Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Rilion nabbed the bronze medal in 10-metre synchro diving, repeating their bronze win from London 2012.

Read more: Canada’s FAB IV divers on Rio 2016 and being proud Canadians



From left: Taylor Ruck, Brittany MacLean and Katerine Savard, with Penny Oleksiak; Credits: Getty Images

6. 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay, bronze: Yet another swimming medal for Canadian women! Taylor Ruck, Penny Oleksiak, Brittany MacLean and Katerine Savard received the sixth medal of the games.

7. Lightweight double skulls, silver: This pair of rowers from Victoria, BC won silver in the women's lightweight double skulls. Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee faced a devastating loss back in 2012 at the London games when they came in seventh place. Their comeback more than made up for it. 

And that’s not even mentioning our women’s soccer team’s historic win over Germany—the first ever—on August 9.

So basically, women kick butt. Here, Canadian soccer goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé gives her three top reasons why girls should participate in sports.

UPDATE: Canadian women won the first 12 medals, including Rosie MacLennan's gold in trampoline, with our thirteenth medal going to sprinter Andre de Grasse.


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Why it matters that Canadian women are kicking butt at Rio