The latest Canada Games Hall of Honour inductees want 2019 Canada Winter Games competitors to take in the experience.
Five people – Jennifer Heil, Cindy Klassen and Bruny Surin, along with builder Clare Drake and distinguished alumna Elizabeth Cannon – were inducted at the Canada Games Hall of Honour Dinner at the Sheraton Hotel Thursday.
Klassen, who has won six Olympic medals and 18 world championship medals in speedskating, said being inducted brought back memories from her time at the Canada Games.
“I learned so much, gained so many valuable friendships,” said Klassen. “I had the tremendous privilege of being able to go to three Canada Games and all of those opportunities were big stepping stones for me going into my career as a speedskater.”
Klassen said she hopes this year’s athletes “enjoy every moment.”
“When you’re in the Canada Games it kind of feels like a mini-Olympics. It’s so exciting and you want to do so well, but just be able to enjoy every moment, give it your best and in the end you’re going to look back on so many fond memories,” she said.
The athletes won’t be the only ones feeling the effects of the Games, she added.
“I’ve seen how the Canada Games has impacted communities,” Klassen said. There are “new facilities, with money going into these facilities, so more kids can get into sports, grow their sport and build their values.”
Heil, a two-time Olympic medalist in freestyle skiing, said the Canada Games was an important part of her career.
“I had the privilege to represent Team Canada for nine years, go to three Olympic Games, to travel the world, and when I reflect back on my career, Canada Games was one of the key highlights,” said Heil.
She said the Canada Games experience is about more than just competition for the athletes.
“Take the time to connect with others, to have those conversations, to approach athletes you wouldn’t approach from other provinces, and to focus on your performance,” she said.
Athletes and builders are inducted into the Canada Games Hall of Honour every two years during the Games.