Celebrating Personal Bests, Not Just Olympic Medals



Bart Given, Managing Director


Aurélie Rivard

Aurélie Rivard (Darren Calabrese, 2016)


It had to be Aurélie Rivard.

Youthful exuberance, four medals in the pool, record breaking performances when the pressure was highest – thusly selected as Canada’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremony.

The similarities between the darling of the Canada’s Paralympic Team and Penny Oleksiak of the Canadian Olympic team are remarkable. These Rio Games definitely had a dominant theme. Our women are fast in the pool.

Of course there were many other great stories throughout Rio, names like Degrasse, Kish, Huot, and Stilwell have earned permanent residence in our memory bank. (Thankfully they also add to my list of stories to tell my 8 year-old at bedtime – he has an insatiable appetite for inspirational sport stories).

Gaétan Boucher (Canapress Photo Services, 1984)

Gaétan Boucher
(Canapress Photo Services, 1984)

My first sport memory is the three medal (2 Gold & 1 Bronze) performance of Gaetan Boucher in Sarajevo. Boucher was dominant, Canada didn’t podium much – Brian Orser won the only other medal Canada would earn in 1984. But there had to be so many other incredible performances by great athletes and role models during those Games, of which I have no recollection.

We’ve been conditioned to focus on podiums. Get a medal, get recognition. Granted, recognition doesn’t always last forever and rarely leads to fame and fortune. In sport or in life. Similarly the best stories and role models don’t always    finish on the podium.

Truth be told, my most recent favorite Olympic stories did not result in a medal. In 2010 it was a fifth, 2012 was a DQ and 2016 it was a fourth placed finish I remember fondly and repeat often.
The stories of Melissa Hollingsworth, Jared Connaughton and Evan Dunfee respectfully.

If you don’t know their stories, you should. These people trained for years to have their shot at  a podium, and for various reasons – performance, lane violations and an appeal lost their medal. How they handled it was truly special. They owned it, accepted the reality with grace and made me proud as a Canadian.

In the case of Dunfee, during his grueling event – he helped a competitor who was struggling, was awarded bronze, lost it on appeal and refused to launch his own appeal despite being bumped by another runner because, in his words –  “I came to the decision I was so proud of my race and that I couldn’t honestly take away from him what he did.”


Melissa Bishop

Melissa Bishop (Getty Images, 2015)

Another of my favourite Rio stories also came from the track, it’s the story of Melissa Bishop. A medal hopeful going in, she performed incredibly well in the final of the 800m. In the biggest moment of her athletic life to-date, Bishop ran a personal best and set a Canadian record. A performance to be incredibly proud of, even though it didn’t result in a podium. She finished fourth, in a controversial race, and was obviously disappointed – no excuses were made.

Nor should there have been. Why should any athlete make an excuse for having the best performance of their life? Shouldn’t it be celebrated and remembered?

I think so.

I’m reminded of this every day. We are fortunate to have two Olympians on the TORQUE team. Neither were hired because they were an Olympian, but it certainly helped their case – despite not having an Olympic medal. They have incredible experiences and stories (not to mention work ethic!) that shape our team and make an impact on our clients.

We are all trying to achieve “Personal Bests”, and would be thrilled to have performed at our highest level possible when the pressure was on. The 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games have wrapped, but the stories and achievements should live on. So if you’re looking for some inspiration for your office, your brand, your consumer or for bedtime stories… perhaps check out the following individuals who set Personal Bests in the last few weeks. Follow them, hire them, sponsor them – and support the system. It will pay dividends.

(Oh and we’ve included some medalists too.)


Andre De Grasse 200M, 100M& 4X100M Silver & Bronze
Antoine Bouchard Judo 5th
Brianne Theisen-Eaton Heptathlon Bronze
Catharine Pendrel Mountain Biking Bronze
Damian Warner Decathalon Bronze
Derek Drouin High Jump Gold
Eleanor Harvey Fencing Made it to the Quarterfinal & set a National Record
Ellie Black Individual All-Around Gymnastics 5th & set a National Record.
Eric Lamaze Horse Jumping Bronze
Erica Wiebe Wrestling Gold
Evan Dunfee 50km Racewalk 4th & set a National Record
Genevieve Lalonde 3000m Steeplechase 16th & set a National Record
Hilary Caldwell Swimming Bronze
Kylie Masse Swimming Bronze
Lindsay Jennerich & Patricia Obee Rowing Silver
Meaghan Benefito Diving Bronze
Meaghan Benefito & Rosaline Filion 10m Synchro Diving Bronze
Melissa Bishop 800m 4th & set a National Record
Men’s 4x100m Relay Track Bronze
Penny Olekisak Swimming Silver
Penny Oleksiak Swimming Gold
Rosie Maclennan Trampoline Gold
Tory Nyhaug BMX Cycling 5th
Women’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Swimming Bronze
Women’s 4x200m Relay Swimming Bronze
Women’s Rugby 7’s Rugby Bronze
Women’s Soccer Team Soccer Bronze
Women’s Team Pursuit Cycling Bronze


Alec Elliot 50 m Freestyle S10,
100 m Backstroke S10,
100 m Butterfly S10
8th, 7th & 4th
Alister McQueen Men’s Javelin Throw F44 Silver
Aurélie Rivard Women`s 50m Freestyle,
Women`s 100m Freestyle,
Women`s 400m Freestyle,
200m Individual Medley
3 Gold & 1 Silver
Aurélie Rivard,
Katarina Roxon,
Danielle Dorris,
Morgan Bird
Women 34 -point 4 x 100m Medley Relay 5th & set a National Record
Austin Smeenk 100 m T34 6th
Benoit Huot Swimming Bronze
Benoit Huot 100 m Backstroke S10
200 m Individual medley SM10
5th & 4th
Brent Lakatos Men’s 100m T53, Men’s 800m T53 Gold & Bronze
Brent Lakatos Men’s 400m T53 Silver
Chantal Givens Paratriathlon 8th
Charles Moreau Cycling Bronze
Charles Moreau Cycling Bronze
Christine Gauthier Para Canoeing 4th
Christine Robbins Paratriathlon 10th
Diane Roy 1500 m T54 & 5000 m T54 6th & set a National Record
& 7th
Doug Blessin Shooting Mixed 10m Air Rifle 6th
Gordie Michie 100 m Backstroke S14 5th
Guillaume Ouellet 1500m T13 & 5000m T13 9th & 4th
Ilana Dupont 100 m T53 8th
Isaac Bouckley 200 m Individual Medley SM10 8th
James Leroux 100 m Breaststroke SB9 7th
Jason Dunkerley 1500 m T11 5th
Jonathan Dieleman 50 m Breaststroke SB3 5th
Joshua Cassidy 5000 m T54 10th
Katarina Roxon Swimming Gold
Lauren Barwick Equestrian: Individual Championship test grade II, Individual Freestyle test grade II 7th & 6th
Liam Stanley 1500 m T37 Silver
Marie-Claude Molnar Women’s time trial C4 5th
Marie-Ève Croteau Women’s road race T1-2 & Women’s time trial T1-2 4th & 6th
Men`s 4X100M Freestyle Relay:
Nathan Clement,
Alec Elliot,
Zack Mcallister,
Nathan Stein
4 x 100 m Freestyle relay 34pts 7th
Men’s Wheelchair Rugby Team Wheelchair Rugby 4th
Michael Sametz Cycling Bronze
Michael Sametz Men’s Individual Pursuit C3 4th
Michelle Stilwell Women’s 100m T52 Gold
Mitchell Chase 1500 m T38 4th
Mixed CoEd Four Rowing team:
Victoria Nolan,
Meghan Montgomery,
Andrew Todd,
Curtis Halladay,
Kristen Kit
Rowing Bronze
Morgan Bird 100 m Freestyle S8 5 & set a national record
Nathan Clement 50 m Butterfly S6 7th & set a National Record
Nathan Stein 50 m Freestyle S10 & 100 m Butterfly S10 5th & 5th
Ness Murby Discus F11 6th
Nicole Clermont Women’s Time Trial C5 8th
Pamela Le Jean Shot Put F53 4th
Pierre Mainville Fencing 8th
Priscilla Gagne Women’s Judo 5th
Ross Wilson Cycling Silver
Ross Wilson Cycling Silver
Sarah Mehain 50 m Freestyle S7, 50 m Butterfly S7, 200 m Individual Medley SM7 7th, 4th, 5th
Shelley Gautier Cycling Bronze
Shelley Gautier Women’s Road Race T1-2 6th
Stefan Daniel Paratriathlon Silver
Stephanie Chan Table Tennis 4 & set a National Record
Tess Routliffe Swimming Silver
Tess Routliffe Swimming 6th & Set a National Record
Tristen Chernove Cycling Gold
Tristen Chernove Cycling Silver
Tristen Chernove Cycling Bronze
Women`s National Goalball Team Goalball 6th
Zack Mcallister 100 m Freestyle S8 7th