The Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame presented by RBC recognizes Team Canada Olympians, Coaches and Builders who embody the Fundamental Principles and Values of Olympism with distinction.
Announcing the Class of 2021
Adam van Koeverden on Alexandre Despatie:
I first met Alex at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. I was 22 and he was 19. Despite being a little older than Alex, I felt like I was meeting a steely veteran. He was already a multiple-time World and Commonwealth Games champion, a household name in Canada, and he seemed to be wise beyond his years. Our first encounter was just a high five or something at the Closing Ceremony in Athens, but in the coming weeks as we attended post-Olympic events back in Canada, I got to know a guy who was thoughtful, intelligent and a lot of fun to hang out with. Sure, I’ve taken my last strokes and Alex has moved on from diving, but every time I run into him it’s like I’m seeing my brother, someone that I looked up to and admired in 2004, and always will.
Rosie MacLennan on Christine Girard: Christine Girard defines grit, resilience, and integrity. There were many moments where she could have given up, but instead, she stayed focused on her training, kept focused on her own path. She could easily hold resentment towards her fellow competitors, instead she holds compassion and is taking this opportunity – her story – and using it as a platform for positive change. There are so many lessons that all athletes, and all Canadians, can learn from Christine. She embodies the values and character that we should all strive towards. Christine Girard is the ultimate Canadian role model.
Jennifer Abel on Émilie Heymans: What I remember most about Émilie’s exceptional career is the positive influence she had on me and the generation of divers that followed in her footsteps. She left her mark on our sport not only through her impressive medal-winning performances at the Olympic Games and World Championships, but above all through her discipline, her strength of character and the aura she had every time she came to the pool. Émilie was always in tune and focused and that’s what made her an exceptional athlete.
Antoine Valois-Fortier on Hiroshi Nakamura: I first met Hiroshi in 2007 when I moved to the National Training Centre in Montreal. I had heard about how great of a judoka he was and how passionate he was about the sport. He taught and impacted so many successful athletes so I was incredibly happy when it was finally my turn. Sensei Nakamura, as we all call him, had an enormous impact on me, not only as a judoka but also as an individual. He has been a teacher, a mentor and a friend to everyone in the judo community in Canada. To this day, he still has passion and respect for judo that I have not seen in anyone else. Hiroshi truly is the one and only Canadian sensei!
Alex Bilodeau on Jack Poole: When I think about the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, I think about its legacy and the impact it had on the Olympic Movement in Canada. From decorated Clara Hughes marching in with our flag at the Opening Ceremony and an emotional Joannie Rochette at the Closing, to the birth of Tessa and Scott, to the historic ‘golden goal’ and to the opportunity I had to win Canada’s first-ever Olympic gold medal on home soil – these are all memories that we would not have had without Jack’s vision. Although he did not live to see the Games, he ensured that a generation of Canadians could pursue their Olympic dreams at home and continue to compete and succeed across the world.
Kara Lang on the London 2012 Soccer Team: The London 2012 Olympic Games will be remembered as a time when the Canadian women’s soccer team captured the imagination of a whole nation. That fateful semifinal match against the Americans was everything a sports fan could ever ask for. It was the culmination of a brutal 11 years of losses to the U.S. It was Canada’s Christine Sinclair at the peak of her game, netting three beautiful goals. It was the Americans, relentless as always, refusing to give in. But most of all, it was an epic display of athleticism, determination, and resilience. Despite the outcome of that match, their performance made these women icons in our country and inspired an entire generation of athletes. And the fact that they were able to recover and capture a bronze medal just a few days later, made it all the more impressive.
Perdita Felicien on Randy Starkman: Randy was a gifted journalist who athletes across the country loved opening up to. He always asked the tough questions but had a unique way of making sure the human side of your story was never lost. He was respected and beloved by the sports community and we knew he loved us right back. His shining talent will always stand but so too will his impact as one of our biggest advocates.
Tyler Mislawchuk on Simon Whitfield: A four-time Olympian, an Olympic champion and an Opening Ceremony flag bearer are the results of being able to perform at the highest level on the day that it counts. I believe what Simon Whitfield did for Canadians through the sport of triathlon is incredible. His relentless pursuit of excellence was inspirational to Canadians in all walks of life. He exemplified that hard work and dedication make it possible to turn a dream into a reality, whatever those aspirations might be. Simon didn’t just talk about the relentless pursuit; he lived it, evidenced by his ability to remain at the top of his sport over two decades. I am extremely honoured to call Simon an incredible athlete, mentor and friend.
Cheryl Pounder on the Vancouver 2010 Hockey Team: Where were you when Canada’s women’s hockey team won gold at Vancouver 2010? I was there. No longer a player, but a friend, and a fan. The pride I felt was overwhelming. Understanding the training and sacrifices made along the way brought me to tears. I was seven months pregnant, crying and getting kicked by a very excited daughter who would be brought into this world with female role models who exemplify courage, commitment, respect and unity through adversity. That daughter is now nine, her friends and teammates pick up their sticks and pretend they are one of these 23 women. Together, they have grown the game, shaped dreams and instilled the magic of the word ‘BELIEVE’ into the hearts of Canadians.
Since 1949, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame has inducted 429 athletes, teams, coaches, and builders in recognition of their outstanding Olympic achievements and their embodiment of the Olympic values.
Adam van Koeverden on Alexandre Despatie: I first met Alex at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. I was 22 and…
Rosie MacLennan on Christine Girard: Christine Girard defines grit, resilience, and integrity. There were many moments where she could have…
Jennifer Abel on Émilie Heymans: What I remember most about Émilie’s exceptional career is the positive influence she had on…
Antoine Valois-Fortier on Hiroshi Nakamura: I first met Hiroshi in 2007 when I moved to the National Training Centre in…
Alex Bilodeau on Jack Poole: When I think about the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, I think about its legacy…
Kara Lang on the London 2012 Soccer Team: The London 2012 Olympic Games will be remembered as a time when…
Visit the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary houses the largest collection of Summer and Winter Olympic Games artifacts in Canada, including the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.