Sinclair to lead Canuck charge
© AFP

Still just 24, Christine Sinclair is already Canada's all-time top scorer. Chalking up an astonishing 87 goals in 113 caps, her nose for goal is without equal in the women's game in the Great White North.

She broke the previous record of 72, held by former team-mate Charmaine Hooper, in a 2006 friendly against New Zealand in what was Sinclair's 93rd cap. "I was close to breaking the record for a while and all my teammates were asking me when I was going to do it and kidding me about it," the young striker and current captain of the Canadian national team told FIFA.com.

"I am extremely proud of breaking the record and it speaks to the kind of progress we've made as a team in the last few years," she added, quick to deflect attention off herself and on to hard-working team-mates like Kara Lang, Brittany Timko and Erin McLeod.

Despite finding the net with seeming ease at all age levels and two instalments of the FIFA Women's World Cup (USA 2003 and China 2007), the Vancouver Whitecaps striker and former University of Portland star is aiming to grab her first goal at a Women's Olympic Football Tournament this August in Beijing.

"As a kid I always dreamed of being an Olympian, but we didn't have women's soccer back then so I would have had to be a skier! When we beat Mexico to reach Beijing it was the best feeling ever," she said. "Now as the tournament approaches you start to get more nerves, but we're really excited about it."

An early mark
Earning her first senior cap at just 16, Sinclair first came to international prominence when she scored ten goals in six games at the first FIFA U-19 (now U-20) World Cup in Canada in 2002, the same year she was named one of the most influential sports personalities in her homeland by The Globe and Mail. Since then she has helped steer Canada to a fourth-place finish at the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2003.

The 2005, 2006 and 2007 Canadian Women's Player of the Year is keen to keep the goals flowing in Canada's first women's Olympic finals. She will be leading the line in Beijing this summer in a tough group that also includes hosts China PR, European heavyweights Sweden and South American underdogs Argentina.

"We're happy to have avoided the USA, Brazil and Germany in the first round," Sinclair said. "I think we can get out of this group."

Coach Even Pellerud, who led his native Norway to the FIFA Women's World Cup crown in 1995, has nothing but the highest praise for his star striker.

"She is without doubt the greatest player in the history of Canadian soccer, male or female," said the Norwegian tactician, who will be stepping down after the Beijing Games. "When Christine is one her game she makes her team-mates believe that they can beat anyone in the world."

Constantly living in the shadow of their neighbours to the south, USA, the Canucks make no bones about their bruising rivalry with the Americans, defending Olympic champions and number one on the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking. The Canadians, currently ranked ninth in the world, will be desperate to outshine their big regional rivals in Beijing this summer.

"We are not quite up to the US's level just yet," she admitted. "But we are closing the gap considerably. We play each other a lot and it's hard to take them to overtime in one game and then lose 6-0 in another. It's important for us to get more consistent"

Korea prep
To that end, they head off on Wednesday to Korea Republic to take part in the upcoming Peace Queen Cup. Sinclair cannot wait for the tournament to start. "It's a good chance for us to get ready and to get our team firing," she said

Although Sinclair has stated that it would be "nice" to hit the mark of 100 goals for Canada, which looks a foregone conclusion given her young age and seemingly insatiable hunger for goals, the captain is a modest and humble footballer seemingly unconcerned with personal status and records.
"I try to be a leader by example," she told FIFA.com. "I'm not the most vocal but I always give my all and I think the message gets across."

With guts, modesty and a sharp eye for goal, Sinclair will be leading by example when the Beijing finals kick off this summer.