The Canadian Olympic Committee offers its heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Catriona Le May Doan, who officially announced yesterday that she was hanging up her skates and retiring from the national speed skating team.

Le May Doan is most recognized for her back-to-back Olympic gold medals at the Nagano and Salt Lake Winter games, and her current standing world record in the 500 m sprint event. She also captured numerous world cup championships, an Olympic record, a Canadian record and was a two-time recipient of the CP Athlete of the Year Award, and most recently winner of the Lou Marsh Award, as well as many other honours throughout her 15-year career on the national team. She is also the only Canadian in Olympic history to defend a gold medal in consecutive Games, leaving behind a brilliant career and an important legacy for Canadian sport.

“I hope people remember me, and that I was able to achieve success and yet still be me,” said Le May Doan, who made the announcement at the Calgary Oval. “What you saw on the ice was me. What you saw is what you got.”

“It is her inspiration, her determination, her kindness, her vibrance, her national pride and her love of competition that make her such an outstanding individual and role model,” said Lou Ragagnin, COC Chief Operating Officer who participated in the press conference. “She has shown excellence both on and off the ice in her community, in her country and around the world.”

Outside of Le May Doan’s incredible on-ice performances, she has contributed significantly to the Canadian Olympic Committee, to the Canadian Olympic Team and to the Olympic Movement in Canada. From being the flag bearer at the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and Nagano to countless appearances at various COC events, she has increased the exposure of high performance sport and epitomized the Olympic values.

Along with her long blades, abundant medals and aerodynamic speed skating outfits, Le May Doan is leaving behind a legacy of excellence. Her achievements are sure to inspire a new generation of young Canadian athletes in pursuit of the very goals she accomplished over her tremendous career.

Le May Doan will maintain an active schedule of speaking engagements and appearances and will participate in the final presentation of the Vancouver 2010 Bid to the International Olympic Committee in Prague on July 2.