Winnipeg has added another checkmark to its impressive track record of producing Olympic-class speedskaters.
The latest star is 25-year-old Heather McLean, named on Wednesday as a member of the Canadian team heading to next month’s 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“I’ll stop smiling as soon as I get back to training and my coach makes me work hard,” said McLean, who first laced up at age two at Kirkfield Westwood Community Centre.
She now trains at the Olympic Oval in Calgary and will be racing in the 1,000-metre and 500-metre distances at the Winter Games.
McLean said she is still “processing all of the emotions” and will rely on breathing techniques and meditation to calm herself before her big races. She’ll also lean on her teammates.
“Speedskating is an individual sport but we all train together and we all rely on each other to get through the amount of training that we do. So it’s really cool to be a part of that team,” she said.
“There are so many strong athletes and we’ve really been working so hard to bring speedskating back to the top of Canada’s success. In Sochi [for the 2014 Winter Olympics] it wasn’t as successful as people wanted it to be and we’ve been working so hard.
“We really want to show Canada that we’re a strong team, women and men, and I think we’re really going to be ready to perform.”
McLean’s appointment to the Olympic squad was being celebrated in her home town, where there is little doubt she is a deserving member of Canada’s team.
“I’ve known Heather probably since she was five years old so it’s really exciting to see how far she’s come,” said Elizabeth Williamson Derraugh, executive director of the Manitoba Speed Skating Association.
“It’s incredible, not only for her but for us as an association to see all her hard work and…