If you had asked me one week ago who or what Penny Oleksiak was, I would have said an inexpensive vegetable oil. But all Olympic fans and swimming fans should know her now. The 16-year-old Canadian swimmer has come from Cathal Dennehy’s virtual “Depths of Hell” to win 4 medals at the Rio Olympics, through Thursday, 11 August. Last night Oleksiak tied Simone Manuel for first place in the women’s 100 freestyle, adding that gold to her silver in the 100 fly and bronzes in the two freestyle relays. Four medals at her first Olympics, and she turned 16 less than 2 months ago.
- First Canadian to win 4 medals at a single Summer Olympics. Only Cindy Klassen (5) has more at the Winter Olympics.
- Her gold was Canada’s first in swimming since Mark Tewksbury in 1992 in the 100 backstroke
- It was only Canada’s second swimming gold by a woman, after Anne Ottenbrite in the 1984 200 breaststroke
- Oleksiak was the first individual Olympic gold medalist to have been born in the 21st century
- Oleksiak becomes the 22nd youngest woman to win an individual Olympic gold medal
- At 16-059, she is Canada’s youngest ever gold medalist, surpassing George Genereaux, who won the 1952 trap shooting gold at 17-148.
- She is the 6th youngest Canadian Olympic medalist, after 5 other Canadian female swimmers: Robin Corsiglia (13-341; 1976), Shannon Smith (14-296; 1976), Nancy Garapick (14-301; 1976), Allison Higson (15-195; 1988), and Angela Coughlan (16-022; 1968)
- She is the 3rd youngest Canadian individual Olympic medalist, after Nancy Garapick and Shannon Smith (see above)
- Oleksiak became the first Canadian to ever win medals on the first two days medals were awarded at an Olympic Games
- Oleksiak has won a complete set of medals in Rio (gold-silver-bronze), which has only been done by a Canadian at one Games by Anne Ottenbrite in 1984.
And Canada thought they got rid of the penny!
(With thanks to Canadian OC stat mavens Mike Christie, Paula Nichols, and Michele Walker – I stole the last line from Michele)