ATHENS—When Nicolas Gill carries the Canadian flag into Olympic Stadium for today's opening ceremony, he will be leading Canada's smallest Summer Games team in 32 years. It is a team reduced in numbers — down to 267 from 311 four years ago — and some might say in expectations.
Canada captured 14 medals, including three gold, in Sydney four years ago, a showing that caused much hand-wringing and set off a national debate on the kind of support we provide our amateur athletes.
Nothing substantive has changed since 2000, raising the question of what the next two weeks will bring. How much sporting mettle will be turned into medals?
Estimates from athletes and others in Athens run the gamut from unbridled optimism to grim pessimism. Most reckon an improvement on Sydney is possible, with the most starry-eyed figuring Canada can win more than 20 medals.
For world champion kayaker David Ford, however, it's possible to have too much of a good thing. Ford has been to four Olympics and has a gut feeling Canada is in for something special this time, but it's not a feeling with which he's entirely comfortable.