Gold Medal Plates rose to the occasion once again and raised more over $1 million for Olympic athletes in celebration of Canadian culture in 2016.

Gold Medal Plates (GMP) is the celebration of excellence in Canadian cuisine, arts, and athletics, and is one of the largest annual fundraisers for the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Eleven events were held across Canada in the GMP’s 2016 season, beginning with a sold out event in Edmonton, AB, on October 12, 2016, and concluding with the two-day Grand Finale in Kelowna, BC, on February 4, 2017.

Over the course of this year’s run, GMP managed to raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Olympic Foundation in support of high performance athletes. Since it was founded in 2004, GMP has raised a total of $12 million. Without the support of these fundraisers, Canada would not have enjoyed the same success at last year’s Olympic Games. Erica Wiebe, Olympic wrestler and Rio 2016 gold medallist, is grateful for the opportunity given by GMP and their supporters.

“[The donors’] commitment and dedication to excellence takes something that as athletes we truly understand,” says Erica. “For them to put in that passion towards supporting us with our dreams, it’s inspiring. And we’re so thankful for it. I feel so honoured, and I know all the athletes that are part of the GMP family do, to be part of that community.”

Team Canada’s Erica Elizabeth Wiebe battles in 75 kg women’s wrestling during the qualification match at Carioca Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday August 18, 2016. (David Jackson/COC)

Proceeds are distributed to national sport organizations (NSOs) as well as the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN). For Erica and the women’s wrestling program, the funding played a critical role in her reaching the podium at the Olympic Games.

“For women’s wrestling, they’ve been so fortunate to have a lot of support and that’s resulted in our Olympic success over the past decade. We’ve been so fortunate to win a medal in every single Olympics that wrestling has been in. And we have an amazing team supporting us everyday. The funding that went into that was unequivocally a huge difference maker. And it made sure I was prepared at Rio, ready to wrestle my best that day.”

Erica Wiebe hoists the Canadian flag after winning gold in Rio de Janeiro. (Jason Ransom/COC)

These funds have allowed Wrestling Canada to send their athletes to training camps, invest in video technology, hire national coaches, and even bring in training partners from Moldova and Japan, according to Erica.

This past year, numerous Canadian Olympians were in attendance at the GMP events alongside Erica, including Penny Oleksiak, Rosie MacLennan, Derek Drouin, Georgia Simmerling, and Evan Dunfee, among many others. They always look forward to meeting their supporters in person.

“The people that you meet there are so generous and so supportive and kind of Canadian athletes. To meet with them and to hear their stories and why they’re there is one of the best things. So many of them just want to make an impact on Canadian sports. It’s amazing to meet them.”

Thanks to the success of GMP and the generosity of donors and event attendees, athletes like Erica are able to train and compete to their full potential. She’s currently busy preparing for the Canadian National Championships at the end of March and is hoping to represent Canada later this year at the World Wrestling Championships.

Expect the next GMP event to hit a city near you in October 2017. For a full list of dates and to purchase tickets, click here.