For Annamay Oldershaw, a teacher at Chris Hadfield Public School in Milton, competing and cheering athletes on the world stage is in her DNA. When the former Olympian was chosen to serve as Team Canada’s Chef de Mission at this month’s Winter Youth Olympic Games
in Lausanne, Switzerland, she was ecstatic.
“To be a part of the Canadian team again, and in such a prestigious role, is quite amazing,” says Oldershaw, a former Olympic swimmer and one-time world record holder in the 200m breaststroke.
Oldershaw left for Switzerland on Sunday to serve as the country’s Chef de Mission during the Games that start Jan 9 and conclude on Jan. 22.
“Chef de Mission essentially means the chief of the mission,” she said prior to leaving. “I will be the head of the Team Canada delegation. I am the number one cheerleader for the athletes and I am the face in front of the media.”
Oldershaw applied for the position a year ago and went through an extensive interview process, which included meeting with the Canadian Olympic Committee comprised of the CEO, President, Athlete Council, Board members.
She calls it a “true honour” to serve in the role as Chef de Mission for Canada.
“There have been many former Olympians who have had the role of Chef de Mission who I admire and look up to. They have made significant differences in the lives of athletes at the Games, and I hope that I can do the same. There will be 78 athletes that I will be leading, getting to know and hopefully inspiring them to be their best. This is such an incredible responsibility and I am up for the challenge.”
An important part of the trip, Oldershaw says, is the experience and learning she will bring back to Chris Hadfield Public School.
“I am hoping to not only teach my students, but all students across the Halton District School Board about following your dreams, no matter what they are. Also, that hard work and dedication are a true measure of success and will get you far in your life and further your career choices.”
Julie-Ann Baxter, Principal at Chris Hadfield Public School, says the school fully supports Oldershaw’s opportunity to represent Canada on the world stage.
“Schools are at the heart of any community and teachers are always giving back to their community in a number of ways,” she says. “We feel very privileged, as a school, to have one of our staff members be chosen in this role as Chef de Mission.”
A total of approximately 1,880 young athletes, 78 from Canada, aged 15-18 will represent more than 80 countries in the Winter Youth Olympic Games from Jan. 9-22.