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July 19, 2016

Alena Sharp

Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Q. There's been obviously a lot of talk about what it's like to represent Canada at the Olympics. I've covered eight and it still gives me the chills. I tell you, there's something like wearing the Maple Leaf. You put the jacket on representing Canada; the honor must be through the roof.
ALENA SHARP: It's obviously an amazing honor to represent Canada. Just today, just to get the jacket, gives me kind of chills and a tear to my eye when the National Anthem is on and knowing that we're going to land in Rio.

And yes, we are going there for a golf tournament but we are also part of the bigger picture of Team Canada. To be in the Olympic Village with the other athletes, that's something that for me, it's going to be an amazing experience. It's not about going down there for a golf tournament. It's about being part of the bigger team.

Q. George Lyon; you've obviously heard some of that, you've probably had the question put towards you, defending Olympic champion and also from your neck of the woods. Do you know much about this guy, and in terms of his history and what he went through, just talk about him a little bit.
ALENA SHARP: Well, I feel some sort of a connection because I won my first CPGA Champion at Lambton where he founded the club, basically. To be back there for press day back in May, that was an amazing experience to go back to the grounds and see his name and plaque and golf clubs.

And for him to be the defending Olympic medal for the men's, I would hope that one of us can bring back the medal for the women's side, and I really hope that Graeme and David can contend for a Gold Medal and bring it home.

Q. In terms of some of the negative publicity, hate to bring it up, and a lot of the talk is going on concerning the issues going on down there, how do you sort of wrap your head around those?
ALENA SHARP: I think we are well prepared. I think that golf Canada and the COC had a given us a lot of information on it. I think we're going to have the correct bug spray and the correct clothing; and I've already got my vaccinations done and I think we are well prepared and I'm not that worried about it. I think the honor of representing your country trumps any concerns there are about Rio.

Q. Brooke Henderson, obviously a lot of success. Do you guys talk a lot, and do you draw from the current roll that she's on?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah, we are pretty good friends. We play a lot of golf together and I think we both feed off of each other. She's brought out kind of the fearless kid in me, even though I'm 35 years old now and she's only 18. I think that's really been helpful to me.

And when you see her doing well, it kind of punishes you to do well and I've had a great season this year. I think that we are both really well prepared to go down there and contend for a medal.

Q. Do you know much about the course down there and what you're about to sort of embark on over those 18 holes?
ALENA SHARP: Our coaches have gone down there and scouted the course out, so we know a little bit about it. It's going to be kind of wasteland, very windy, so need to hit good tee shots, and I've heard the greens are pretty difficult.

So landing the ball on the green isn't going to be in the best thing. You need to be in the correct quadrant. We are lucky that our coaches have had a chance to map out the greens, so I think we are 1-up on the competition. We don't have to worry about that when we get there. Yeah, good tee shots and then being accurate into the pins.

Q. With 116 years between women being able to compete in the Olympics with golf, did that make it extra important for you to make sure that you went on, regardless of the conditions and health concerns?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah, it's a huge honor to represent Canada. And to go down there and really representing women in the sport of golf, and if we can spur on more girls to play, that's a huge goal, for me to be a role model for not only Canadians, but for all over the world, to get more women into golf.

Q. What are you looking forward to the most, beyond actual the golf competition itself? Is it walking in with the athletes? Is it being in the team village? What's the dynamic there for you?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah, I think being part of Team Canada in general. Not just going there to play golf but being in the Olympic Village and being around the other athletes and seeing how they are. I want to go to other venues and watch them compete and be part of Team Canada and not just be at the golf course all day.

Yeah, I want to be part of the team and really be the proud Canadian competitor down there and cheer on the other athletes. I'm going to stay for the clothing ceremonies and get to the Canadian Open later because that's important to me. Four years from now, who knows where I'll be. I'll be close to 40 so I'm taking my opportunity now to experience it to the fullest.

Q. Have you been thinking about this ever since they was announced that golf was going back to the Olympics?
ALENA SHARP: I think it's always been in the back of my mind. It's an extra pressure. At the time I wasn't qualified. I wasn't the second person. So for me to have played well last year to get on to the team, it's a huge accomplishment and I'm very proud to say that I'm going to Rio.

Q. What do you know about the course?
ALENA SHARP: We've heard that it's more of a wide-open, kind of wasteland type course. Greens are going to be very tricky. It's going to be windy, so I think it plays into my game. I hit it long off the tee and I've played well in the wind this year. I've worked on my game to get ready for playing in the wind because if you can play in the wind, you can play anywhere.

We're lucky that our coaches have scouted out the greens, so I think we are a little bit ahead of the competition. They did a lot of detailed sketching. So I think it's going to help us when we get down there. Spending less times on things we would normally do every week, it's already done for us, so now we can just practice and get ready to win.

Q. Graham said when he put the jacket on, he said -- I don't know if he used the word real; did you have a similar experience?
ALENA SHARP: It was officially announced last week, but today being here in front of fans and being from Hamilton, not far away, having people here cheering for all of us; and then when you put the jacket on, it does become more real. Even though it was announced last week, it feels more of a real experience now, and with Scott Russell announcing us and Curt Harnett being here, I don't know, there's no real words to put to it. I can look back when I'm older and say I was Olympian and hopefully I'll have a medal to show for it.

Q. What has Hamilton brought to you as a human?
ALENA SHARP: Obviously very fortunate to have great support from Hamilton. I think there's another Olympian going from Hamilton but for the two of us to go represent Hamilton in Rio, I think that's an amazing accomplishment. I don't know if a lot of cities can say that.

I always come back home and Hamilton is my home, so proud to be a Hamiltonian.

Q. How has the Zika virus affected your decision to go down to Rio?
ALENA SHARP: It really hasn't affected my decision. At the beginning, there was a lot of concern, but we've been updated monthly from the IGF and the COC and golf Canada. The cases have decreased by 85 percent. I think you can contract Zika in Florida, too. It's not a big issue for me.

Of course I'm going to be careful. I'm going to putt bug spray on and probably wear long sleeves, but I'm going to wear shorts. I think at the golf course, because it's supposed to be windy, I don't think that's going to be a problem. I think it's going to be more be careful around the Olympic Village. So I'll be wearing bug spray 24/7.

Q. Canada won gold over a hundred years ago; is there any pressure to carry the torch?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah, I think we feel the pressure a little bit but I think that all of us are really excited to see it down there and go and try and win a medal. This is different. This is top three or nothing, really. You want to be in that top three, and at golf tournaments, you don't really think about it like that.

So this is like you want to go and win that Gold Medal, and I think the guys are really raring to get and defend that medal.

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