'The room just erupted': Maggie Mac Neil's family reacts to gold medal
Maggie Mac Neil has become a household name, quite literally overnight, after winning Canada’s first gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the Women’s 100 metre butterfly race.
Her family recalls watching the event while on vacation in Kincardine, Ont.
“The room just erupted,” Mac Neil’s mother, Susan McNair, said in an interview with CTV News London.
At first, they were unsure if Mac Neil was going to place because of her start to the race, but they were pleasantly surprised when she did.
Speaking during a press conference at the Olympic Games, Mac Neil said she was also surprised with the outcome.
“When I touched the wall I heard the announcer say my name so I thought, ‘Oh I must have done something good,’ and then I’ve gotten better at squinting really hard to see the score board so I could kind of see that I had touched first so that was really exciting.”
Angela Schneider, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies and an Olympic silver medallist in rowing says this fast rise to fame will have a life-changing impact on Mac Neil and those around her.
“Not all athletes have a great selection of who they can choose as a sponsor whereas once you win a gold medal, that opportunity gives you a little more room for selection,” said Schneider.
She says it’s likely Mac Neil will be presented with a bunch of brand new sponsorship opportunities and endorsements, but it will be important that she only says yes to the ones that are the best fit for her.
The Mac Neil family says they have already started to see the effects of having an Olympic champion in the family and the spotlight it brings -- as both the athlete and her family have been talking to media all day.
“You know it’ll be interesting to know and to learn more. I’ve connected with one of the other mothers who has an Olympian child who’s medalled before and I think people like that will be helpful to guide us as well,” said McNair.
She adds that it is uncertain if her daughter will try for the 2024 Olympics in Paris or if she is open to brand endorsements at this time.
As an Olympic champion herself, Schneider encourages the new star to use her platform to empower other young women to pursue their passion sports.
“It’s an important responsibility for the athlete to support initiatives that try to generate equity for female athletes in this kind of situation."
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