Canadian women in sports: insights from champion guests on The Honest Talk

Have you ever wondered about the untold stories of Canada’s top athletes? What sacrifices do they make? Which milestones do they miss in their pursuit of excellence? What helps them to win medals while staying true to themselves?

This article explores the riveting journeys of Canadian women Olympians, including Lisa Weagle’s double Olympic feats and Marnie McBean’s championship glory.

Join us for an intimate look into the lives, career highs and lows, and unique stories of some of Canada’s top athletes and most influential women as featured on the Honest Talk podcast. Dive into the dedication and sacrifice that underpin the successes of Canadian women in sports.


Lisa Weagle is a two-time Olympian and World Champion

She’s also Canada’s Chef de Mission for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Lisa has been hard at work since we spoke to her on The Honest Talk podcast, founding her curling academy and mentoring the next generation of sports legends. We invite you to reflect on the wisdom Lisa shared with us about resilience, using your voice, the power of believing in yourself, and the importance of embracing challenges as opportunities for growth.

Lisa Weagle on her second Olympics

“I felt like going to the Olympics was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially being a curler from Canada. So, to be able to go a second time is just an absolute dream come true.”

Lisa Weagle on preparation for the Olympics

“Training has become my full-time job to be able to compete at this level against the top teams around the world. So for me, that looks like some ice time, that looks like time in the gym, some recovery with some massage, foam rolling, things like that, making sure my nutrition, hydration, sleep, all those things are taken care of. It’s not just the physical preparation; it’s also the mental preparation and the recovery to ensure that I’m ready for the long stretch ahead and the stress that will come with the competition.”

Lisa Weagle on her childhood and curling goals

  • “I was always really competitive. I don’t think I was always as disciplined. That was something I learned and a skill I had to develop and work on. But I’ve always been a member of teams that are driven and hardworking.”
  • “I loved watching curling on TV. I had the curling heroes that I loved to watch and wanted to be like, and I wanted to go to the Scotties; I wanted to go to the Olympics. But I don’t think I was an undiscovered talent. I had to work hard and was lucky to be part of some really good teams.”

Lisa Weagle on balancing sport and career

“Sport has always just been a passion of mine. It brings many skills: teamwork, handling adversity, goal setting. By the same token, I love having a career and I love working. I worked in the government for many years and was very fortunate with leaders who believed in what sounds like a crazy dream. So, I’ve been very lucky to be able to manage both, and it certainly hasn’t been easy. It’s never been a 50-50 split. There have been times when curling has just had to take over. But for me, it is worth it when you can stand on the podium, go to the Olympics, and win world championships — just being able to pursue a dream and see how far I can take my passion.”

Marnie McBean is a three-time Olympic champion and a three-time World Champion

She is also a member of the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Marnie served  as Team Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and, in December 2023, was named to the Senate of Canada.

Marnie McBean on people in sport

There are no superheroes out there. Success is achieved by ‘normal’ people who have issues, people who have problems, people who are time-stressed.”

Marnie McBean on fear, doubt, and challenging goals

“The presence of fear and doubt doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path; it often means that you’re on the right path, and you have a really healthy, hard goal. There’s no joy in achieving mediocre goals, and easy days are often boring days.”


The Honourable Carla Qualtrough was named one of Canada’s most influential women in sport

She has won three Paralympics and four World Championship medals and been named one of Canada’s most influential women in sport six times. Following her exceptional sporting career, she became a human rights lawyer and political leader. She is currently a Member of the House of Commons. She has served as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Minister of Accessibility, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and, at the time of this story, is the Minister of Sport and Physical Activity.

Carla Qualtrough on finding Paralympic sport

“I was born into a family where we did every sport imaginable — downhill skiing, waterskiing, curling, baseball — and every sport I wanted to try, my dad went to extraordinary lengths to help me feel able to participate in it. But eventually, all the accommodations in the world couldn’t compensate for the fact that it just got too fast. The ball got too fast, the slopes got too steep. And that’s when I found out about Paralympic sport. And I tried a whole bunch of sports that are designed for people who are visually impaired or that have built-in rules that accommodate for people with visual impairments and I found something and fell in love. I just loved to race; I loved to compete; I loved to train; I loved to become better. And that’s what swimming allowed me to do.”

Carla Qualtrough on the Paralympic movement and human rights

“Paralympics taught me all the general lessons that you learn through sport: hard work, don’t cut corners, being a member of a team, time management. But the Paralympic movement, in particular, exposed me to, first of all, a world of massive discrimination that exists out there around the world. I really got to see how in other countries, people like me were hidden, and people like me didn’t work, and you just couldn’t see disability on the streets. It really made me interested in the human rights side of disability. But it also intrigued me in terms of my lifelong interest in building systems that are inclusive from the beginning.”

Silken Laumann Olympian, Canadian champion rower

Silken Laumann is a three-time Olympian and Canadian champion rower

She captured the hearts and minds of Canadians by rowing for this country in three separate Olympics — and winning three Olympic medals. During her exceptional athletic career, she also won a World Championship and a gold medal in the Pan American Games.

Silken Laumann on support systems in sport

“An individual sport is not an individual sport. There were many people who just had to step up and support me and sometimes carry me through that 10-week period [when I was recovering from a massive injury], because it was so incredibly intense and we were racing against time.”

Silken Laumann on her personality and resilience

  • “I was born with some of it — I see that in my own kids, especially in my daughter, that kind of intensity. Also, I had a mom who really struggled with her mental health, which meant I had a pretty unpredictable, difficult childhood, and I think that made me very independent, it made me very self-driven. I wanted to create my own reality, create my own life, and that drive came very early in my life.”
  • “Growing up with my mom being so explosive and unpredictable, and never knowing what I was coming home to, that definitely was really difficult. It created a lot of layers to who I am today, but certainly, as a little girl, I had to survive, I had to find inner resources to deal with this constant unpredictability inside our home. It absolutely did make me stronger.”
  • “I definitely have a superpower: my incredible focus and drive. I had the ability to eliminate all distractions and get zeroed in on what I wanted. That really was just a force at that point, and I had that laser intensity that was needed. I had dreamed about going to the Olympics every single morning that I woke up for over a decade before that.”