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Video round-up: Olympic athlete-scholars

By TARA SIEBARTH | August 3, 2016

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are in full swing! Despite controversies surrounding some of the venues, housing, as well as potential security risks, the Games are set to be an exciting platform for our Canadian athletes to show their best attributes.

While we can’t showcase the over 300 Canadian athletes attending this year’s games, we thought we would highlight some of the ones who are currently completing (or recently completed) a degree in graduate studies (Masters or PhD) at a Canadian university while also training to be an Olympian. Prepare to be dazzled!

There are impressive athlete-scholars pursuing degrees at Canada’s francophone universities as well!


Tara Whitten, @tara_whitten

Results in Rio: Despite finishing seventh in the time trial, Tara did not finish the women’s road race in Rio.
Sports: Cycling – Road | Cycling – Track
Education: Completed her PhD in neuroscience at the University of Alberta and defended her thesis in January 2016.
Highlight: Fast-forward to the 57 second mark and get as excited as the announcer as Tara wins gold at the 2011 UCI Track Cycling World Championships:

Bonus: Watch Tara talk about training and neuroscience.


Benjamin Martin, @bmart87

Results in Rio: The Canadian men’s field hockey team tied India (2-2), but went on to get beat by Ireland (4-2),the Netherlands (7-0), Argentina (3-1) and Germany (6-2).
Sport: Field Hockey
Education: Pursuing a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at University of British Columbia.
Highlight: What is field hockey anyways? Ben and his teammates explain:

#RoadToRio – Field Hockey Trivia

Our Men's National Team hits the street, testing field hockey knowledge and spreading Olympic cheer!

Posted by Field Hockey Canada on Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Rosannagh MacLennan, @RosieMacLennan

Results in Rio: 1 gold medal in women’s individual trampoline. See her gold medal performance.
Sport: Gymnastics – Trampoline
Education: Pursuing a Masters in exercise science at University of Toronto.
Highlight: Rosannagh’s gold medal routine from the 2014 Pan American Trampoline Championships:

Bonus: Rosannagh has been named Canada’s official flag bearer for the Games.


Donna Vakalis, @SportIsAllOver

Results in Rio: Donna came 33rd in her event.
Sport: Modern Pentathlon
Education: Currently pursuing a PhD in civil engineering (environmental engineering) at University of Toronto.
Highlight: How does one train for modern pentathlon? Donna shows you:


Lauren Wilkinson

Results in Rio: Lauren and her fellow teammates finished 5th in the women’s eight rowing event.
Sport: Rowing
Education: Lauren graduated from Princeton University with a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology. She is currently pursuing her Masters in microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia. She would like to complete a joint veterinary-PhD program after rowing as part of her interest in the ecology, evolution and epidemiology of infectious disease.
Highlight: Watch Lauren row her way to silver at the London 2012 Olympics:


Jasmine Mian, @jasmine_mian

Results in Rio: Jasmine finished 12th in 48kg freestyle women’s wrestling.
Sport: Wrestling
Education: Works as a teaching assistant at the University of Calgary where she is pursuing her Masters of science in experimental psychology.
Highlight: Wrestlers come in all shapes and sizes (Jasmine is in the red suit):

Bonus: Watch Jasmine in action (this time in the blue suit)


Geneviève Lalonde, @lalongen

Results in Rio: Geneviève finished 16th in her event.
Sport: Athletics – 3,000 metre steeplechase
Education: Currently pursuing her Masters of arts in geography at the University of Guelph.
Highlight: Watch Geneviève’s last lap at the 2015 Pam Am Games, where she took bronze in her event:

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