The Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, presented by RBC inducted its Class of 2019 on Wednesday afternoon. This year’s group of inductees consists of four athletes (Émilie Heymans / Alexandre Despatie / Christine Girard / Simon Whitfield), two teams (Vancouver 2010 women’s hockey team / London 2012 women’s soccer team), two builders (Jack Poole / Randy Starkman) and one coach (Hiroshi Nakamura).
Held at the historic Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, the inductees and approximately 300 of their closest friends and family celebrated the highest honour in the Canadian Olympic Movement.
Since 1949, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame has inducted 429 athletes, teams, coaches, and builders in recognition of their outstanding Olympic achievements and their embodiment of the Olympic values. For more information, visit the official page of the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.
Visit the official page of the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame to read tributes to the Class of 2019 from Alex Bilodeau, Cheryl Pounder, Kara Lang, Antoine Valois-Fortier, Jennifer Abel, Adam van Koeverden, Rosie MacLennan, Tyler Mislawchuk and Perdita Felicien.
Darlene Poole (Jack Poole’s wife) – On behalf of builder Jack Poole:
“Jack believed in people and revelled in inspiring them to do impossible things. The 2010 Olympic Games was always a journey against the odds, but Jack believed to the very end that Vancouver would prevail, that the confidence of British Columbians’ would soar and that Canada would be changed forever – and in true Jack form he would deflect the credit to others. He would be deeply humbled by this recognition.”
Hayley Wickenheiser – On behalf of the Vancouver 2010 Women’s Hockey Team:
“Winning a gold medal on home soil is something that few athletes get a chance to do and it’s not easy! Vancouver 2010 was a special Olympics for all of us. Our team rose to the challenge of playing under the pressure of competing at home. We felt like there were seven players on the ice at all times, the 7th was the Canadian crowd and all the fans cheering us on to gold. Thank you Canada!”
Diana Matheson – On behalf of the London 2012 Women’s Soccer Team:
Induction into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame means the world to the players and staff that made up the London 2012 Women’s Soccer Team. We were a group that had spent over a decade trying to break into the world’s best, and after finishing dead last in a World Cup in 2011, and with a new coaching staff that reinvigorated our passion to change Canadian soccer for the better, we managed to do just that. None of that team’s success in 2012 would have been possible without the belief and support of Canada Soccer and the Canadian Olympic Committee, as well as the private supporters and donors that helped fund our team and players financially before we had achieved any meaningful success. This honour is especially due to the millions of Canadians that embraced our team with such love and support during the summer of 2012. Thank you.
Hiroshi Nakamura – Coach:
“During my career, I tried to live every day by the Japanese expression: ICHI, NICHI, ISSHO. The translation is ‘always try to have the best day possible and the combination of lifetime experiences will define your life.’ If you truly live this way, you will feel your life has value and fulfillment. To young coaches and athletes of every sport, if you are passionate, dedicated and willing to make sacrifices, success will come.”
Émilie Heymans – Athlete:
“I am very happy and honoured to be among the inductees of the 2019 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. I hope to be able to use this opportunity to continue to inspire the new generation to achieve and exceed their limits. Sport gave me a lot, but above all, it taught me that even if I practiced an individual sport, it was thanks to an incredible team of people that I was able to make my dream of winning four Olympic medals come true.”
Alexandre Despatie – Athlete:
“I have had the privilege to do what I loved the most for 22 years and had the honour of competing and representing my country on the biggest stage in sports. The hard work of myself and my team over the years made it a successful career. Now to be inducted in the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, looking back at a full career, among this amazing group of people is such a blessing! Thank you so much.”
Christine Girard – Athlete:
“When I finally received my Beijing 2008 and London 2012 medals last year, I felt that it was something greater than a personal victory. It was a victory for Canada, a victory for our values. The honour of being inducted in the Class of 2019 is a validation that these values of true sport are indeed something that Canadians hold high. I am so very proud to be Canadian. I am deeply honoured to be recognized among so many amazing individuals who have helped shape sport in Canada.”
Simon Whitfield – Athlete:
“I’m proud to be called to the Olympic Hall of Fame. It has been quite remarkable and touching to hear from old friends and coaches, athletes and Canadians who contributed and found inspiration from my Olympic journey.”
Mary Hynes (Randy Starkman’s wife) – On behalf of builder Randy Starkman:
“One of the reasons this is so meaningful to me is that I saw how hard Randy worked. I don’t just mean late nights at the press centre during the Olympics – I mean the way he’d show up at training camps. Or the way he would get to know an athlete’s mom and dad. The way he would spend so many weekends on long-distance phone calls – doing interviews about events nobody else was covering. There was no one like him on the beat. There was no one like him, anywhere. Ever. Ella and I are just so proud of him. She was born during the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996 – and Randy came home. I can’t imagine anything else prying him away from the Olympics.”
Ken McKinnon – Recipient of the 2019 RBC NextGen Award:
“Thank you to RBC, Swimming Canada and all of those involved in the nomination and selection process. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career. I developed a passion for swimming at my local Summer Swim Club that still burns strong with me today. I was given the opportunity to develop the skills required to become a performance coach working at Pointe Claire Swim Club and I appreciate all that I learned from my best swimmers. Currently I’m working harder and having more fun than I ever have.”