With the 2012 London Olympic Games officially over, Canada's athletes are returning to their respective hometowns as Canadians reflect on the accomplishments of their nation's best.
Included in that elite field is White Rock's Christine Girard, who brought home a historic bronze medal in the women's 63kilogram weightlifting, and former South Surrey resident Richard Weinberger, who brought home bronze in the men's openwater marathon event in the final days of the Games.
The 10-kilometre race, which took place in London's Hyde Park on Aug. 10, saw Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia take the top spot, finishing with a time of 1 hour, 49 minutes and 55.1 seconds. Thomas Lurz of Germany took silver, coming in 3.4 seconds behind Mellouli and Weinberger rounded out the podium finishes, arriving just 1.8 seconds behind Lurz.
"It was an extremely physical race," said Weinberger in a release following his win. "That's why I avoided being in the pack and tried to be on the outside or up there with Mellouli. I wanted to have a smart race and things turned out in my favour."
The win cements the 22-year-old as one of the best in the world in the sport, which comes as no surprise to former coach Brad Dingey, of South Surrey Pacific Sea Wolves.
Having worked with Weinberger during the Olympian's time on the Sea Wolves, Dingey saw from an early age that Weinberger had what it takes to make it on the world stage.
"Richard is just a fantastic kid, from the time I've known him even before he was in our program," said Dingey following Weinberger's win. "He was always worked really hard in the pool and always did it with a real sense of fun. None of the stuff he was ever doing ever seemed like work for him and I think that's always been one of his hallmarks."
According to Dingey, Weinberger trained with the Sea Wolves for about four years before heading off to Victoria after high school. During his time at the club, Weinberger showed a dedication and work ethic that Dingey knew could carry him to the Olympics.
Dingey also noted that Weinberger trained during the same time as fellow local Olympians Brittany Reimer and Hilary Caldwell.
"Within that training group we had kids who weren't afraid to work really hard and what Richard did was make it fun for everybody," said Dingey. "It didn't matter if it was 4: 30 in the morning or 7: 30 at night, Richard always did it with a smile on his face. He was there to work hard and have a lot of fun."
As for the future, Dingey predicts Weinberger will be remain one of the sport's top competitors for years to come.
"He's the youngest guy in that Olympic field and so, really, the only thing standing between Richard and being consistently very successful at this is that level of experience," said Dingey. "I think Richard probably does all of the work if not more than those athletes and he proved that he's easily the best in Canada and one of the best in the world."
Weinberger's medal was Canada's 17th of 18 at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Additionally, half of Team Canada's medals were won by B.C.-based athletes.