Heroes Tour – Toronto

TORONTO – As part of the 2012 Celebration of Excellence, members of the 2012 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Teams were in Toronto today, visiting area schools and hospitals and meeting with elected officials, while 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame inductees attended an introductory media event.

Athletes started the day with the General Mills Youth and Olympians Breakfast at Maple Leaf Gardens.

“The Olympic Games are such a large event, and happens on such a big scale, that it’s difficult for some of these kids to connect personally to it,” said 2012 Olympic Beach Volleyball player Martin Reader. “It’s really important for us to be ambassadors for international sport, and for our sports, to bring these kids in tune with our athletics, with our passion, our determination and everything that sport involves for us.”

Schools were next on the agenda, as athletes inspired young fans to be active and to follow their dreams.

“Seeing the kids and the looks on their faces is honestly one of the best things about winning this medal and coming home and sharing it with kids like that,” said 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Mark Oldershaw. “They just get so excited. I want them to try as many different things as they can while they’re young –- whether it’s sports, or arts, or anything –- and just find what they’re passionate about.”

The Hospital for Sick Children and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital also welcomed Olympic and Paralympic guests, as athletes visited with hospital patients.

“Being able to connect with young kids living the same circumstances I did a few years ago is so important for me,” said Summer Mortimer, four-time 2012 Paralympic medallist. “Showing them that gold medal gives them a positive outlook and hopefully they get inspired to take up para-sport and participate.”

Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Heroes were also welcomed to Queen’s Park, where they met with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Lieutenant Governor David C. Onley.

The class of 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame inductees met with the media at an event at the Air Canada Centre ahead of tomorrow’s Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony.

“This is a real honour. It’s something you hope will happen, but you have no control over it,” said Jean-Luc Brassard, 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame inductee, Freestyle Skiing. To be selected with this amazing group of athletes, who I’ve admired during my career and even after, is just amazing. It brings back great memories from when I was an athlete and I look forward to being part of this very select group of people.”

“It’s a great honour to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Coach Julie Sauvé, 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame inductee. “I’m so happy after so many years of work. Thirty-five years, and it happened today. So many coaches work so many years and never get inducted. For me, it’s like receiving a gold medal today.”

“I am very honoured to be here and Sarah would be honoured as well,” said Rory Bushfield, husband of 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Inductee Sara Burke, Builder. “I think it’s great that she is being credited for all her hard work.”

“After all these years of working with many colleagues, coaches and athletes in the Canadian Olympic Committee it’s heartwarming to know they have valued your contribution to such a degree that they have decided to accord you with the Association’s highest honour,” said Michael Chambers, who was awarded the Canadian Olympic Order.