Managing medals and death threats: Why Kim Boutin is the perfect flag-bearer for Canada

Short-track speedskater Kim Boutin will be Canada’s flag-bearer at the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

Boutin was the obvious choice to carry the maple leaf after the Quebec-native medalled in all three individual short-track events at her first Olympics; silver in the 1,000 metres, and bronze in both the 500m and 1,500m. Boutin is the first Canadian woman and the second woman in Olympic history to achieve that feat.

Kim Boutin will carry Canada’s flag at the Closing Ceremony.
Kim Boutin will carry Canada’s flag at the Closing Ceremony.

But it’s not Boutin’s first medal that makes her the perfect flag-bearer for Team Canada, nor her second, or indeed third. The honour bestowed is not deserved solely because she won more medals than any other Canadian in PyeongChang.

It’s the way the 23-year-old handled herself throughout the Games. Amid controversy, she stayed focused and continued to represent Canada the best way she could. On the podium, on and off the ice, Boutin’s Olympic experience was a rollercoaster ride, that will now, deservedly, end on another high.

After South Korean star Minjeong Choi was disqualified in the 500-metre final, fans blamed Boutin, who was subsequently bombarded with hundreds of death threats on social media labelling her a cheater and calling her bronze medal ‘dirty.’

The abuse forced Boutin to set her social media accounts to private while the RCMP, IOC and Speed Skating Canada investigated.

It would be easy to feel disheartened and even resentful after the celebration of your first Olympic medal was tarnished by such a slew of hate but Boutin didn’t give up. She rose above it with class and determination, and went on to win two more precious pieces of Olympic hardware.

Boutin is a role model for anyone who has ever been bullied online, faced obstacles, or anyone with a dream to accomplish something big.

The Olympic rookie has since opened her Twitter account to the public to express her feelings after being chosen as Canada’s flag-bearer.

She has made Canada proud with how she has held herself throughout these Games, and when Team Canada announced that she would carry the red and white on Sunday, the Twitter-world came out to show their support.

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