Anna Phelan

Many sports represented in Hall of Fame’s new class

Figure skater Elizabeth Manley didn’t feel any pressure before competing at the 1988 Winter Games in her home country. She was just happy that a case of pneumonia didn’t derail her Olympic dream.

TORONTO — Figure skater Elizabeth Manley didn’t feel any pressure before competing at the 1988 Winter Games in her home country.

She was just happy that a case of pneumonia didn’t derail her Olympic dream.

Manley, who was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday, battled a high fever ahead of her memorable performance at the Olympic Saddledome. She fought through the illness and wowed an adoring crowd by winning a silver medal in one of the standout moments of the Games.

Manley’s stunned smile at the finish provided a lasting image of the Calgary experience. But it was a struggle to get to that point.

On the off-day between the short and long program, Manley was running a temperature of 105 degrees.

“Honestly the best thing that ever happened to me was that I was that sick,” she said. “I was too sick to get nervous, too sick to get caught up and be obsessed with, ’Oh my God, I’m (competing) in my home country.’ I literally just became robotic because of my illness.

“I just had to go from A to B and then just take each step at a time.”

Manley and her coaches weren’t sure whether she could physically get through her free program. But she was in excellent condition and had actually trained on how to compete when fighting an illness.

A conversation with Canadian hockey coach Dave King also helped motivate her. He told her how much she had inspired his players with her effort.

“It turned things around for me in a matter of hours,” Manley said. “It just made me realize that I’m here, I want to do this, why would I give it up at this point. And I proceeded through to the free program and thank goodness I did.”

Manley, who was not expected to be a podium contender, finished just behind East German favourite Katarina Witt. American Debi Thomas was third.

Manley also took silver at the 1988 world championship and was the first female skater in Canada to successfully land a triple-double combination jump in competition.

The Hall’s Class of 2014 also included freestyle skier Sarah Burke, ski jumper Horst Bulau, skier/cyclist Pierre Harvey, hockey player Geraldine Heaney, rugby player Gareth Rees, wheelchair basketball coach Tim Frick and basketball coach Kathy Shields.

Burke was a freestyle pioneer and driving force behind the inclusion of the women’s halfpipe and slopestyle events at the Sochi Olympics. She died at age 29 after a training accident in Utah in 2012.

A number of Burke’s family members were on hand for the induction at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

“It really comes down to honouring such an incredibly kind human being that played the sport,” said her father, Gordon Burke. “She worked hard, she played hard and she loved what she did — every minute of the day.

“She’d be pretty blown away I think that this was happening to her.”

Bulau, who won 13 World Cup titles over his career, represented Canada at four straight Olympic Games from 1980 to 1992. The 1979 world junior champion is considered Canada’s greatest ski jumper of all-time.

Harvey, a multi-sport star, competed for Canada at two different Olympics in 1984. He raced in cross-country skiing at the Winter Games in Sarajevo and competed in cycling at the Summer Games in Los Angeles.

In 1987, he won a World Cup race in Sweden to become the first Canadian to win an international cross-country event.

Heaney is still the highest-scoring defender in the history of the national women’s hockey team program. The seven-time world champion won Olympic gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Games and silver at the 1998 Nagano Games.

Rees played in four straight Rugby World Cups from 1987 to 1999 and served as captain on 25 occasions over his 14 years with the team. He also won scoring titles in France, Wales and England over his pro career.

Frick and Shields entered in the builders category.

Frick served as head coach of the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team for almost two decades. He led the squad to three straight Paralympic gold medals from 1992 to 2000.

Shields guided the University of Victoria women’s basketball team to eight national titles and had a career coaching record of 320-50 at the school. The former senior women’s national team coach was also named Canada West coach of the year on nine occasions.

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