As the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang edge ever closer, it is hard not to reminisce on some of Canada’s greatest achievements in sport.
There’s definitely a love and passion for athletics in Canada – from hosting Olympic Games to winning Stanley Cups and World Series to producing some of the greatest athletes to ever compete in their respective sports.
Let’s take a look back on some of the more notable achievements as we look forward to more glorious moments in the near future.
Great achievement: Challenged himself to run across Canada to raise funds for cancer research
He’s undoubtedly one of the most inspirational sports figures worldwide. Fox, who was missing his right leg due to cancer, was determined to prove to himself and people that any challenge can be conquered when you dedicate your life to it. Certainly, he proved to the world that amputees are able to compete in sport. Five years after the ‘Marathon of Hope’, Rick Hansen, arguably one of Canada’s most famous Paralympic athletes, and a friend of Fox’s, made his own historic journey on the ‘The Man in Motion World Tour’. These men created tremendous change for the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport.
Great achievement: The only NHL player to have his number retired league-wide
Commonly referred to as, ‘The Great One’ he’s the holder of many scoring titles and Stanley Cup championships and is perhaps the greatest hockey player to have ever played the game. Gretzky set impressive statistics throughout his career, and a majority of those records still remain and some may never be broken. Among them: his 894 career regular season goals, 93 more than Gordie Howe; his 1963 career regular season assists, 714 more than Ron Francis; and his 2857 career regular season points, 943 more than Jaromir Jagr.
Great achievement: Five medals at one Olympic Games
A multi-medallist at the world championships and still holder of the 3000m world record, Cindy Klassen is tied with Clara Hughes as Canada’s most decorated Olympian with a total of six medals. Five of those came at Turin 2006, where she became the first female speed skater and the first Canadian athlete in any sport to stand on five podiums at a single Olympic Games.
Great achievement: Two-time NBA MVP
An eight-time All-Star, Nash enjoyed a likely Hall of Fame career in the NBA. In 2005, he was the first Canadian to be named league MVP, making it back-to-back victories in 2006 while a member of the Phoenix Suns. Nash has taken the next step in developing basketball within in Canada as he is currently the General Manager of the Canadian national team. He’s also a philanthropist in his work with youth through Steve Nash Foundation.
Great achievement: 168 international goals and counting
Undoubtedly the most recognizable person in Canadian soccer, Sinclair has been Canada Soccer’s Player of the Year 13 times in the last 17 years and captained Canada to back-to-back bronze medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016. Sinclair is Canada’s all-time leading goal scorer and ranks second internationally behind retired Abby Wambach of the United States. She’s been a nominee for FIFA women’s player of the year eight times.
Great achievement: Landed the first quadruple jump in competition
Browning became one of Canada’s most beloved athletes throughout the highs and lows of his career. But his coming out event was the 1988 World Championships where he landed the first ever quadruple jump in competition, forever changing what was viewed as possible in figure skating. He would go on to become a four-time Canadian and world champion. His success, combined with his personality, earned him the support of so many Canadians that after he fell in the short program at Lillehammer 1994, taking him out of Olympic medal contention again, he received letters upon letters, including one that took the form of a giant hug.
Great achievement: Winner of the first ever World Cup title in 1967
Greene-Raine is Canada’s most decorated alpine skier with 14 World Cup victories, two overall World Cup titles, and two Olympic medals captured at Grenoble 1968. It all contributed to her being named Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century. Greene-Raine carried her positive and aggressive ‘go getter’ mentality into the Senate of Canada in 2009.
Great achievement: Only Canadian man to win a major golf title
Weir is Canada’s greatest golfer to date, with an impressive eight victories on the PGA Tour, including the only major won by a Canadian man, the 2003 Masters Tournament. That was one of three titles he claimed that year as he also won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s Athlete of the Year.
Great achievement: Four consecutive Olympic gold medals
It’s a record shared by her teammates Jayna Hefford and Caroline Ouellette – the first women to ever win gold in the same event at four straight Olympic Winter Games. But Wickenheiser is also considered by most to be the greatest female ice hockey player ever. Wickenheiser represented Canada at five Winter Games, winning a medal at each. Her successful Olympic career also included earning MVP honours twice. Her impact on the game will live on forever as she was at the forefront of women’s hockey in Canada. She is Canada’s all-time leading goal scorer with 49 international goals between Olympic and World Championship events. In 2003, she was the first female skater to play and score in a men’s professional league, doing so in Finland’s second division. She is an influential person to many female hockey players as the new generation of athletes will try to accomplish what she has.
Great achievement: Only Olympian to win multiple medals in Winter and Summer Games
Hughes won six Olympic medals in her career, tying her with Cindy Klassen as Canada’s most decorated Olympian. But while she was the fifth athlete and second woman to be a medallist at both the Winter and Summer Games, she was the first to win multiple medals at both. It began with two road cycling bronzes at Atlanta 1996, followed by four speed skating medals from Turin 2006, Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010.
Great achievement: Holds the record for most Olympic Games appearances (10)
His longevity as a show jumping equestrian has spanned over ten Olympic Games. Millar is nicknamed “Captain Canada”. He made his Olympic debut at Munich 1972 as a 25-year-old, competing at every Games in which Canada participated until his last appearance at London 2012 at 65 years of age. At Beijing 2008 Millar captured his first Olympic medal, winning a silver in team event, at age 61. Outside of the Games, he was the first equestrian to win back-to-back World Cup Finals with the same horse, the legendary Big Ben.
Great achievement: Canada’s youngest Olympic champion and the first Canadian to win four medals in the same Summer Games
Oleksiak is on the rise to greatness after an eye-opening performance at Rio 2016, where she captured four medals and at 16-years-old became Canada’s youngest ever Olympic champion. In winning 100m freestyle gold, she also became Canada’s first female Olympic swimming champion since 1984. She was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete and the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s top female athlete for 2016