But Bob Johnston, Rebecca's father and chief executive officer of the Greater Sudbury Airport, said watching her play is never an easy experience. At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, where she and the rest of the women's hockey team won gold, Johnston remembers being being stressed for the entire series.
“She was second-youngest on the team the last time around,” he said Thursday. “I went (to Vancouver) and I was just a nervous parent … I can't see it being different this time.”
Johnston and his wife leave for Russia next week, and hope to see their daughter play in the quarterfinal match Feb. 15. When they arrive in Sochi, they'll be carrying a banner covered in signatures from Sudburians supporting Johnston and Sudbury's other Olympians — pairs skater Meagan Duhamel and cross-country skier Devon Kershaw.
That they'll be arriving with a literal show of support from Sudburians means a lot to the family, Johnston said.
“From a parent's point of view — and I know from Rebecca's point of view — that's the personal touch that makes the Olympics so special,” he said. “You train and you do your thing and you want to compete hard. But when you grow up in a community like Sudbury … it's just so important to have that support. It's what makes it a really unique experience.”
Since she arrived in Sochi on Feb. 1, Johnston has been tweeting photos of herself and teammates at various site in the athletes village. While some media reports have been critical of hotels and other amenities, she's had a great experience so far, her dad said.
“We've been Facetiming a bit, and (talking) through emails a little bit,” Johnston said. “From a participant's point of view, she says the facilities are absolutely amazing. The athlete's village is fine with her, the food is great, they have every choice of food. So everything seems good.”
With multiple threats of terror attacks and concerns about the quality of preparations and accommodations for non-athletes, Johnston said they're heading to the Games with some concerns.
“I'm personally not worried, but my wife, sometimes, it's in the back of her mind,” he said. “They have 50,000 security personnel there. That doesn't mean something can't happen, but I think security will be very tight and very thorough and comprehensive.
“So we're going to go over there with the attitude that everything's going to be all right and we're going to enjoy the experience.”
And while they're nervous, they're going to try to enjoy watching their daughter perform, regardless of whether she and her teammates win another gold medal.
“We don't know if this will be her last Olympics, so we want to go over there and really enjoy the experience this time, and not worry about the result,” he said. “I know from Rebecca's standpoint … she wants to do well, and she wants to be sure she represents Sudbury well in the competition.”
And they're happy to be the ones bringing good wishes from Sudburians to all the local athletes in the Olympics.
“We'll carry that banner proudly and we look forward to the trip.”