Leaders in the world of Canadian sports were unveiled as the 2019 Canada Games Hall of Honour Class Tuesday.
Athletes Jennifer Heil, Cindy Klassen, Bruny Surin as well as hockey coach Clare Drake and President Emerita of the University of Calgary Elizabeth Cannon will be inducted during the Honour Celebration Dinner taking place Feb. 14th as part of the Winter Games celebrations in Red Deer.
Heil, a freestyle skier, went on to the Olympics three years after competing in moguls at the Canada Games. She won a gold medal in ladies’ moguls at the Turin Olympics in 2006 and won a silver medal in Vancouver in 2010.
Known as a Canadian speed skating great, Klassen was the first Canadian to win five medals at one Olympics. As a young athlete at the Canada Games, she competed in hockey, speed skating and cycling at three separate Games. Her Canada Games experience provided valuable learning opportunities in both sport and life, she said.
“I cherish my time at the Canada Games and this induction has given me the chance to reflect on those experiences. It is a proud moment to have my name placed among other Canadians who have contributed so much to our country,” Klassen said in a press release.
Surin is considered to be one of the best sprinters in the world. He competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games where he helped Team Canada bring home a gold medal in the 4x100-metre relay. He still holds the Canadian record for 100 metres, with retired Jamaican-Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey.
“Thirty years ago while I was participating at the Games, I had big dreams to become an Olympian and the fastest man on earth. I could say those Games were a stepping stone for my career,” said Surin.
“Amidst the pressures, the judgments and the sacrifices that I made in my life, on Aug. 22nd, 1999, I ran faster than I ever imagined and became the second fastest human of all time.”
Drake was the most successful coach in the Canadian Interuniversity Sports men’s hockey history. He served as a role model for thousands of hockey players and coaches who have modeled their strategies after his innovative techniques. He died in 2018.
Dr. Cannon, who competed in three Canada Games as a young athlete, is being recognized for her achievements in the distinguished alumna category.
Canada Games Council President and CEO Dave Patterson said athletes who competed in the Games early in their careers have gone on to achieve incredible things in sports and their communities.
“You can rest assured here in Red Deer, there will be athletes who will compete at the next Winter Olympics in Beijing or the Paralympic games. This is not just the next generation, it’s now. These athletes are world class now,” he said.
“Athletes who give back to their communities, do incredible things for their communities, these are the kinds of athletes we induct into our Hall of Honour.”