Photo: The Canadian Press

Olympic Excellence Series Key to Building Team Unity

When Clara Hughes carried this country’s flag into Vancouver’s B.C. Place in 2010 she felt something amazing:

“This is just a beautiful feeling being among this incredible team,” said the only Canadian to ever win medals in both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. “I feel like we are Canada … and we are one.”

Sure, it was a magical moment in time — for Hughes and for Canada. Sure, she was leading some of the most incredible athletes Canada has ever produced. And yes, that moment changed the sport landscape in this country as we officially started our journey to a best-ever performance at a Games.

But often under observed is the amount of work it takes to create a multi-sport roster that shares an unbreakable bond — one only Olympic teammates have in common.

This is why every year before a Games, Canada’s top athletes will gather and prepare to become a genuine team at something called the Olympic Excellence Series. It’s is where they learn from champions. It’s where veterans share inspiration and rookies collect the rules of road.

With less than 10 months to go before the Sochi 2014 Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee will host its fourth edition of the Series for athletes, coaches and support staff aiming for podium success.

This year’s event will be held at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, B.C. May 10 through May 12 in the very city where Hughes marched with her 2010 team.

“I’m so gifted as a human being to have had these experiences,” she said.

Without team unity, without events like the Olympic Excellence series, these experiences could not happen … for Hughes, for every athlete or for Canada.

To get an inside glimpse of the athletes this weekend, follow along on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.