If Burnaby soccer star Christine Sinclair was not already Canada's most recognizable female athlete, she is now.
The 29-year-old captain of Canada's bronze-medal-winning women's soccer team led the Canadian athletes into Olympic stadium in London on Sunday as her country's flagbearer for the closing ceremonies.
It was a fitting tribute to the single most influential player in women's soccer in the country over the past decade, and the unlucky heroine of Canada's heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to eventual gold medallist Team United States in the semifinals at the Games.
Although always reluctant to take the spotlight, it's a responsibility, not unlike the unselfish burden of shouldering the pitfalls and fortunes of the national team for so many years, she has learned so well to carry.
"This a huge honour, and I wish I could have my teammates right here with me," said Sinclair in an Olympic.ca press release.
"We want the next generation of young girls to dream of being in the Olympics and getting a medal around their necks. If we can instill in them just the belief that this can happen, then we have done our jobs."
For Sinclair, that quest for a medal at a major international competition ended with Canada's improbable 1-0 victory over France and earned the Canadian women's team one of the country's 12 bronze medals at the Games.
It was also Canada's first team medal at the Summer Olympics dating back to the Berlin Games of 1936.
More than last year, when she carried the flag into the opening ceremonies at the Pan American Games, or her 143 career international goals that ties her for second all-time among the world's best soccer players, Sinclair's singular effort at the 2012 Olympic Games will be among her lasting legacies.
All but broken after Canada's devasting lastplace finish at the World Cup last year, Sinclair stayed with the program and under new head coach John Herdman helped raise the team,s stature among the world's best.
Leading up to the Games this season, Sinclair set a new national single season goal scoring mark in international contests with 17 goals.
She also led all scorers at the Olympics with a tournament-best six goals, including the three memorable markers that almost sank the unsinkable American ship in the storied semifinals.
It's the stuff Hollywood spins into its movie-making machine.
"The team inspired the whole country with their performance here in London," said Canadian Olympic team chef de mission Sylvie Bernier.
Indeed with bronze medal in hand, her smiling face was emblazoned across the front pages of major dailies across Canada, in stark contrast to the image of Sinclair on her knees and her hands clenched above her head, with her face overcome with the emotion of the moment following that win over France in Coventry.
Sinclair had said in the past, "You can't be great until you've achieved something great."
This was her moment, and helping Canada earn an Olympic medal was that great thing, said Herdman in a Postmedia article by Bruce Arthur that ran in The Vancouver Sun.
For many of us in Burnaby who have known and watched Sinclair through the years, seeing her achieve that salvation was magical, although her greatness was never in question.