Canada's women poised to lead medal haul in Rio

Canada's female athletes are expected to bring home the bulk of the hardware at the Rio Olympics, according to data from Gracenote Sports.

A recent analysis predicts Canada will win 18 medals in Rio, 12 of them (70 per cent) by women. Four years ago in London, Canadian women accounted for half of the country's 18 medals, but the only gold came from female trampoline athlete Rosie MacLennan.

Deidra Dionne, who won bronze for Canada in freestyle aerials at the 2002 Winter Olympics, believes the strength of the female athletes is a positive sign.

"It takes a generation to lead a generation," Dionne said. "To know our team is led by multiple female athletes with a chance at podium success says wonders about the opportunity Canada continues to provide women in sport." 

It's rare to see women dominate a country's medal haul the way the Canadians are expected to.

There have only been five times in history that female athletes have won at least 70 per cent of a country's medals (minimum of 10 medals) at an Olympics, according to Gracenote. Netherlands has the record from the 1984 Los Angeles Games – women accounted for 11 of its 13 medals (85 per cent). Japan and Romania broke the 70 per cent barrier in 2000, Poland in 2004 and Jamaica in 2008.

Current predictions in Gracenote's Virtual Medal Table (visible on the right rail of the CBC Olympics site) indicate that only Canada and Ethiopia would challenge the 70 per cent threshold for female medal winners, and no other country would eclipse 60 per cent.

Having women win more medals than men should give the Canadian female stars more media attention. 

"There will be lots of people viewing," said Jennifer Fenton, chair of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport (CAAWS). "You'll have the dads, uncles, sons, all kinds of people saying, 'Wow, this is amazing. These women are amazing athletes and I want the women in my community and in my family to participate. And I'm going to help remove some of the barriers so that they can enjoy achieving their dream.'"

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