Sports

Stand tall, Clara Hughes

Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes is a role model for all of us to emulate. - Don Fennell photo
Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes is a role model for all of us to emulate.
— image credit: Don Fennell photo

To say Clara Hughes was the best choice to be Canada’s flag

bearer for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games would be

an understatement.

No one offers a greater combination of talent and humility,

or better exemplifies the true spirit of sport.

When she was officially introduced Friday in Richmond

as Canada’s flag bearer for the Vancouver

Games, she said, “This is without a doubt the greatest honour of my

sporting life.”

She means it.

Though one of the most gifted athletes in Olympic history—

competing and winning multiple medals in both

the Summer and Winter Games; the only athlete

ever to do so—Hughes has always been

inspired to help others through her actions.

Her efforts and determination are examples for

all of us to emulate.

“We believe that no athlete is more deserving

of the honour of carrying Canada’s flag on

home soil than Clara,” said Jean Dupre, director

general of Speed Skating Canada.

Effectivement!

For all her accomplishments in cycling

(double bronze medallist at the 1996 Summer

Games in Atlanta ) and on the ice (bronze in

Salt Lake City and silver and gold in Turin),

Hughes’ work ethic remains as

legendary as her skills.

So too, her willingness to lend a hand—be it

simply a pat on the back and a few

words of encouragement for a teammate

or raising funds and awareness for children.

Hughes’participation with Right to Play—an international

group dedicated to improving the lives

of children in some of the most disadvantaged

areas of the world by using the power

of sport and play for development, health

and peace—is as exemplary as it is inspiring.

After winning gold at the Turin Games, she

donated $10,000 of her own money to Right

to Play to help raise awareness. She challenged

Canadian business and individuals

to match the donation and to date more than

$400,000 has been raised for programs

worldwide.

Following the Vancouver Games,Hughes hopes to continue

her humanitarian work.

After Hughes carries the flag into BC Place

Stadium on the evening of Feb. 12 and watches

the opening ceremony with her teammates,

she will have only one day to finalize her

preparation for the first race of her last Olympic

Games, taking part in the 3,000-metre event

on Feb. 13. But know that Hughes is a winner,

through and through.

As she prepares to wind up her Olympic

career at the Richmond Olympic Oval over the

next two weeks, her ultimate goal is to

defend her Olympic title in the 5,000 metres.

With her track record only a fool would bet

against her.

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