Hosted by veteran broadcasters Scott Russell and Andi Petrillo, Road to the Olympic Games chronicles athletes’ journeys on and off the field of play. Here’s what to look for on this weekend’s show on CBC Television and CBCSports.ca.
An Olympic gold medallist once explained to me that there are two kinds of champions. The first is a person who wins a race or a big game, and becomes the pre-eminent athlete.
The other kind of champion is someone who believes in something, furthers a cause, and ends up making things better for others.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Class of 2017, which was announced Wednesday embodies both those realities while also revealing the complexity and richness of the sporting pursuit in this country.
Established in 1955, the Hall now includes 620 members with the selection of six individual athletes, two builders and a legendary team, all of whom will be enshrined in the Calgary-based museum and officially inducted this coming November.
It’s the mosaic–like nature of the Class of 2017 which is most pronounced and telling.
These nine new members who cross generational, gender and cultural divides combine to highlight a sports narrative unique to Canada as the country celebrates its 150th birthday.
There is a Masters champion golfer in Mike Weir, who is the only Canadian to have accomplished that feat. Also entering the shrine is the most decorated Winter Olympian in the nation’s history in speed skater Cindy Klassen, who hails from a Mennonite background on the Manitoba prairie.
Included in the group is Lanny McDonald, a universally beloved hockey player, Stanley Cup Champion, and tireless community ambassador.
On the builder’s side is neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator, who has long advocated for safe sport through his work looking into the harmful effects of concussion. And there is also the late Dr. Robert Jackson a pioneering arthroscopic surgeon who forged the Paralympic movement in this country and internationally.
Lacrosse star — the late Gaylord Powless — an indigenous Canadian who endured bullying and racism while dominating the summer national game, speaks to the unsung nature of a wider contribution in a long overdue time of reconciliation.
“I want to thank my dad for being so awesome,” said his daughter Gaylene Powless in accepting the honour. “He loved lacrosse. That love of sport lives on in our reserve and in our entire community.”
Also joining the class is Carol Huynh, an Olympic champion in wrestling who fought to keep her sport on the program in future Games. The daughter of Vietnamese refugees taken in by a local church in small town British Columbia, Huynh articulated the significance of her selection.
“I have a refugee background and this is important, particularly in light of the refugee crisis today,” she said. “This is proof that you can have a dream, come from any background at all, and make extraordinary things happen.”
Perhaps the most high profile…