“Every athlete dreams of representing their country at the Olympics,” said Doreen (McCannell) Botterill, who made her international speed skating debut at the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. “It was a thrill and an honour to be selected to go.” Botterill was one of only four Canadian skaters to make the trip to Austria and the youngest (aged 16) competitor in the entire field. She cracked the top 15 in all four events she skated including an impressive eighth in the 2,000 metres.
It was a successful debut that prepared her for her second shot at the Olympics, in 1968 in Grenoble, France. “I was more prepared for the enthusiasm of the audience (in 1968),” said Botterill, who had competed in two world championships and won the 1966 North American Senior Ladies Championship in the four years since Innsbruck. “In Canada, we get the parents coming out and that’s all. But in Europe they line the track.”
Unlike today when Olympic teams travel with coaches, managers and other support staff, the skaters in Botterill’s era had to fend for themselves, relying on advice from older skaters. “If I knew then what I know today about training, you wonder what would have happened,” said Botterill, married to noted sport psychologist Dr. Cal Botterill. Son Jason and daughter Jennifer have blossomed into outstanding athletes themselves.
A figure skater from the age of four, Botterill switched to speed skating at 11 years old on the prodding of her elementary school principal. From that point on, there was no stopping her. Botterill was honoured as Manitoba Outstanding Junior Athlete in 1961, Manitoba Athlete of the Year in 1965 and the Manitoba Female Athlete of the Year in 1968. By the time she hung up her skates for good in 1969, she had held 31 Canadian records. In 1978, she was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Speed Skating Association Hall of Fame.
b. July 29, 1947 -