It was a rockstar welcome for Burnaby soccer star Christine Sinclair and her fellow Olympians Monday as they returned home after 16 days of highs and lows at the London Games.
More than 100 fans erupted in cheers as the 29-year-old flagbearer appeared, along with three of her teammates, Karina LeBlanc, Sophie Schmidt and Emily Zurrer, at Vancouver International Airport.
Sinclair told reporters it was great to be back home and share the bronze medal with fans and her family.
“To walk out in front of 80,000 screaming fans and carrying your country’s colours, it’s a moment I’ll never forget,” she said of the closing ceremony. “I think I need to watch it on TV because I don’t even remember what happened.”
She’s hopeful that their accomplishment at the Games would increase awareness and support for women’s soccer.
It was also an emotional reunion for Sinclair and her mom, Sandra, who gave each other a big hug.
“I’m over the moon,” her mom said. “I’m just glad to have her back.”
Weighlifter Christine Girard, open water-swimmer Richard Weinberger and team pursuit cyclist Jasmin Glaesser proudly showed off their bronze medals to the fans cheering them on.
Krista Guloien, women’s eight rowing silver medallist, said seeing Team Canada’s supporters welcome them was even better than watching the Spice Girls perform Sunday.
Andrew Munro, who helped Sinclair’s mom in coaching a young Christine and South Burnaby team, said he knew she was bound for greatness during the first practice and game.
“She was quite shy, but a great teammate,” said Munro, who coached and refereed Sinclair for five years. “She preferred other people scoring than herself. She could score probably 20 goals a game if she wanted to, but she tried to set up as many of the girls on team as she could.”
“I had tears in my eyes when I saw her carry the flag,” he added. “It was like being a parent.”
Maarja Vonschulmann, 13, who was holding a sign that read “Bronze in the podium. Gold in our hearts” was excited to meet her idol.
“I think Christine’s a great team leader,” she said. “She scored a hat trick which is pretty hard to do at the Olympics. She’s really an inspiration.”