Brodeur, Hefford, Bilodeau among Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame class of inductees

CALGARY — Alexandre Bilodeau felt the emotion of the moment.

The freestyle skier’s voice shook as he spoke about his upcoming induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Bilodeau’s older brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy, was on the mind of the two-time Olympic moguls champion Thursday in Calgary.

“There’s a whole story of people, a whole team of people that allowed me to find success in this sport,” Bilodeau said.

“My brother has always been part of that journey and has always been part of the performances. He’s done so much sacrifice, my whole family.

“I feel so honoured to be here and they’re part of that journey. All the emotion comes up.”

The 31-year-old from Rosemere, Que., who won Olympic gold in moguls in both 2010 and 2014, is part of a diverse class of 2019 entering the Hall of Fame.

NHL goaltender Martin Brodeur and hockey player Jayna Hefford, distance swimmer Vicki Keith, water polo player Waneek Horn-Miller and Paralympian Colette Bourgonje round out the athlete inductees.

Former CFL commissioner Doug Mitchell and rowing official and coach Guylaine Bernier will enter as builders.

They join 664 other athletes and builders who have entered the hall over its 64-year history.

All but Brodeur were present Thursday at the hall located at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.

Their official induction ceremony will be held in Toronto in October.

Five of the eight are women and two of them — Horn-Miller and Bourgonje — are Indigenous.

“To be included with such incredible people, people from all walk of life and experiences in sport and to get a chance to talk to them and hear their stories, there are similarities, but there’s that difference as well and that’s what great about sport,” Horn-Miller said. “It brings so many different people together.”

Horn-Miller of Kahnawake, Que., was the first Mohawk woman to compete in an Olympic Games. She co-captained the first Canadian women’s water polo team to qualify for a Summer Games in 2000.

Montreal’s Brodeur won three Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils and earned the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender four times. He also won two Olympic gold medals with the Canadian men’s team.

Hefford, from Kingston, Ont., won four Olympic gold medals and seven world championships with the Canadian women’s hockey team.

She ranks second behind Hayley Wickenheiser in all-time scoring for Canada with 157 goals and 134 assists in 267 games.

Hefford was interim commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League that ceased operations May 1 due to financial problems.

She remains optimistic about the future of a professional women’s hockey league because 200 players are flexing their collective muscle and working to get a sustainable league.

“I’ve been really proud to see the response of the players, the unity they’re showing, the leadership they’re bringing,” Hefford said.

“I believe through these difficult times we’re creating something better for the future. I think women’s hockey has never had more momentum despite the current climate of the game.”

Bourgonje (pronounced bore-go-knee-ah) was the first Canadian woman to compete in both Summer and Winter Paralympic Games.

The 57-year-old from Porcupine Plain, Sask., won four wheelchair racing bronze as well as three silver and two bronze in para-nordic skiing.

Bourgonje was the Canadian to win a Paralympic medal on home snow in 2010.

“Canada’s sport community is growing and becoming more inclusive,” Bourgonje said. “That will make Canada a stronger nation.

“Growing up in Saskatchewan, I didn’t know there were boundaries. I’m so grateful to the coaches that have helped me a long the way and helped pave that path.

“I look forward to contributing to others, to the kids. We’re trying to find kids that can be para-athletes that know they can be the best they can be. There is sport for them. They don’t have to sit on the sidelines.”

Winnipeg’s Keith set 16 distance swim records, including the first double crossing of Lake Ontario and the first crossing of the English Channel using the butterfly stroke.

She follows Marilyn Bell, the first to swim across Lake Ontario, into the Hall of Fame after Bell’s induction in 1958.

“So to be able to follow in her footsteps is a huge honour,” Keith said. “People often ask me, marathon swimming, is it mental or physical, what percentage?’

“I used to say it’s 100 per cent of both because you have to be there completely and you have to be willing to be uncomfortable and stay in a state of discomfort for a period of time.

“If you can fight through those times and come out the other end, you become a stronger person as well as being a better athlete.”

Bernier, from Saint-Leon-le-Grand, Que., competed in rowing in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. She continued to work in the sport for the next 45 years as a coach, official and organizer.

Calgary’s Mitchell introduced a salary cap that stabilized the CFL when he was commissioner from 1984 to 1988. He also founded the Canadian university sports awards that have been presented since 1993.

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