Kaillie Humphries writes to Canada: ‘Thank you’

Bobsledder Kaillie Humphries wrote an open letter to Canada on Sunday, calling the series of events that ultimately led to the Canadian bobsled team giving her the release she sought in order to compete for the United States “the most difficult process” of her life.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist did not mention her plans to race for the U.S. in the letter. Instead, she thanked Canada for its support and expressed disappointment that she will no longer compete for her country.

“Dear Canada, Thank You,” Humphries wrote. “I can never express in words the deep love and gratitude I have for this country and all my fellow Canadians that have supported me over the years. Today I don’t know how to feel. While I am very happy this purgatory has ended … I am also very sad to not compete under my flag any longer.”

Canada decided to release Humphries on Saturday, ending a saga where the relationship with its most decorated bobsledder was clearly fractured beyond repair. Humphries asked for her release in early August, and needed it by Monday in order to have any shot of competing for the U.S. this season.

Humphries did not slide last season after filing a harassment complaint with Canadian officials, largely over what she described as verbal and mental abuse by Canada coach Todd Hays — a former U.S. Olympian in bobsled. If she makes the U.S. team, which is expected to be largely a formality, she would be eligible to compete on the World Cup circuit for the Americans starting this fall.

In addition to the Olympic golds, Humphries also won an Olympic bronze, two world championships, four overall World Cup championships and 48 World Cup medals for Canada over 11 seasons. She is eligible to compete for the U.S. in part because she married an American, former bobsledder Travis Armbruster, earlier this month.

“It has been my pleasure and the greatest honour of my life to represent you on the world’s stage wearing the maple leaf,” Humphries wrote in her letter to Canada. “No words can adequately describe what is going through my head and my heart. Some of my greatest memories and triumphs have been standing on top of the Podium, singing the words to our national anthem. ‘True North strong and free’ will forever be ingrained as the foundation from which I was built.”

Humphries also said she hopes other athletes who do not feel they are competing in a safe environment can look at her story as a sign of hope.

“I feel the biggest issue is safety in amateur sports for athletes, being able to compete free from abuse and harassment,” she wrote. “The need to be able to speak up without fear of retribution within the system or the public eye, when things aren’t right, is so desperately important.”

Canadian officials have said they took Humphries’ abuse allegations seriously and investigated fully, but did not find sufficient evidence to support her claims.

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