If you are Canadian and paid any attention during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, you know who Christine Sinclair is.
For those of you who didn’t find the time to tune in, Sinclair is the captain of Canada’s national women’s soccer team, and was a primary reason why they captured the first medal in a traditional team sport event in the Summer Olympics since the men’s basketball team won silver in 1936.
The medal was a bronze, a good result for a nation currently ranked seventh by FIFA, but also disappointing as it came as a result of a very controversial loss at the hands of the Americans. Many Canadians, including Sinclair herself, would lambaste the officiating as the American squad would benefit from some dubious calls and eventually win 4-3, despite Sinclair scoring a hat trick in a superb effort.
Sinclair would go on record with the media in blasting the performance of the officials, which would result in further support for the team. The whole country seemed to tune in as the Canadians took on France in the bronze medal game, a game in which Diana Matheson scored the only goal of the game to give Canada a 1-0 win. The ladies were celebrated as heroes upon their return to Canada, as their ability to bounce back on short notice after such a heart-wrenching defeat was truly inspiring. The effort of Sinclair did not go unnoticed, as she was named the flag bearer for Canada at the closing ceremonies, as well as receiving the Diamond Jubilee medal.
Normally when an athlete criticizes officiating after a loss it is met with a negative public response, but Sinclair had the complete support of the public throughout the process, as there was a palpable feeling of injustice. When Sinclair was subsequently suspended for four games by FIFA, causing her to miss the upcoming Four Nations Cup, it seemed FIFA was taking the easy way out, instead of admitting their own faults. Sinclair remained nothing but classy through the process and has helped elevate the popularity of women’s soccer to new heights just in time for Canada to host the next Women’s World Cup, as Winnipeg along with five other cities will host the tournament in June and July of 2015.
graphic by silvana moran