Olympic inspiration hits Ottawa

OTTAWA – As part of the 2012 Celebration of Excellence, members of the 2012 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Teams were in Ottawa Wednesday, September 19, visiting area schools, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the Canadian Armed Forces and the House of Commons during the Heroes Tour.

Athletes started the day by visiting Ottawa-area schools, inspiring young fans and students to be active and to follow their dreams.

“It’s a good opportunity to talk to some kids and inspire them to stay active and get involved,” said 2012 Olympic Trampoline gold medallist Rosie MacLennan after a visit to St. Anthony School. “I love seeing the reactions of kids. Go out there, try everything you can and take advantage of the opportunities and find something you love.”

A group of Olympians and Paralympians visited the Asticou Centre in Gatineau, Quebec, to witness and participate in Armed Forces training.

“I thought it was cool to see how the activities are related to what they would do on the job,” said 2012 Olympic swimmer Thomas Gossland, on the Canadian Armed Forces training he witnessed at the Asticou Centre in Gatineau, Quebec.

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario also welcomed Olympic and Paralympic guests, as athletes visited with CHEO patients.

“What a moving experience, to visit with these kids who are facing so many challenges,” said two-time Olympic Rowing medallist Brian Price. “As a cancer survivor and Olympic medalist, I came here to inspire them, but I am leaving being inspired myself.”

Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Heroes were also welcomed to Parliament Hill, as they were presented with Queen’s Jubilee medals and then honoured on the floor of the House of Commons.

“It was so exciting to be here today to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal,” said four-time Olympic Diving medallist Emilie Heymans. “It’s my first time, after four Games, to be invited to the House of Commons, so this is very much appreciated.”

“Winning an Olympic medal is pretty incredible, but when you can walk up to the Prime Minister and he recognizes you and says congratulations, it takes it to a whole different level,” said Karina LeBlanc, 2012 Olympic Soccer bronze medallist, after being honoured in the House of Commons.

The Olympic Heroes Tour moves to Toronto, as the Canadian Olympians and Paralympians boarded a VIA train for a full day of events Thursday, ahead of Friday’s Olympic Heroes Parade and the 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony.

“We didn’t get a lot of bonding time in the Olympic Village, so it’s cool to be on a train and just enjoy the four hours together,” said 2012 Olympian Justyn Warner. “It’s gone by quickly. We’re laughing and joking. Everyone’s having a great time. This whole experience has been phenomenal — something I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”