Olympians honoured in Toronto
TORONTO – The 2012 Celebration of Excellence brought together hundreds of athletes and thousands of fans from Ottawa to Toronto, highlighted by the Heroes Parade and the 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony in Toronto on Sept 21 at the end of three days of festivities.
Athletes started the day by visiting Ottawa-area schools, inspiring young fans and students to be active and to follow their dreams.
A group of Olympians and Paralympians visited the Asticou Centre in Gatineau, Quebec, to witness and participate in Armed Forces training.
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario also welcomed Olympic and Paralympic guests, as athletes visited with CHEO patients.
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 next day, athletes started the day with the General Mills Youth and Olympians Breakfast at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Schools were next on the agenda, as athletes inspired young fans to be active and to follow their dreams.
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."
Then the class of 2012 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame inductees met with the media at an event at the Air Canada Centre ahead of the Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony on Sept 21.
That day, the 2012 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Teams were officially given the home-crowd welcome at the Heroes Parade. Thousands of fans lined the streets to show their appreciation for the Olympians and Paralympians who proudly wore the maple leaf in London.
The parade moved through downtown Toronto, culminating in a public celebration at Maple Leaf Square in front of the Air Canada Centre, where hosts Cabbie Richards and Alexandre Bilodeau entertained Olympic fans and introduced the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic heroes on stage. The event also featured a performance by Neverest.
Later that evening, Olympic legends joined the exclusive group of individuals inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame at the Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony at the Air Canada Centre.
The class of 2012 includes: Jean-Luc Brassard (Freestyle Skiing), Daniel Igali (Wrestling), Beckie Scott (Cross Country Skiing), the 2006 women’s hockey team (Team category), the 2010 men’s hockey team (Team Category), Julie Sauvé (Coach category) and the late Sarah Burke (Builder) were honoured for their outstanding contributions to the Olympic movement in Canada. Past Canadian Olympic Committee President Michael Chambers was also awarded the Canadian Olympic Order.
Net proceeds from the event directly support the Canadian Olympic Team and their quest for Olympic glory through the Canadian Olympic Foundation.