Sports hall of fame welcomes class of 2010
by Blaine Meller
A Stanley Cup-winning goaltender and four gold medalwinning Olympian are among the new inductees into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. For the first time since 1987, Calgary – the new permanent home for the hall – hosted the annual induction gala where eight new members were welcomed. In total, the hall now has 514 members representing 58 different sports. Jacques Villeneuve, Kyle Shewfelt, Patrick Roy, Chantal Petitclerc, Clara Hughes, Jean-Luc Brassard, Dr. Roger Jackson and Bob Ackles were officially introduced to the media during a Nov. 10 press conference at the Telus Convention Centre. The 40,000-square-foot hall, currently under construction at Canada Olympic Park at a cost of $50 million, is slated to open to the public July 1, 2011.
For Roy, it was a fitting return to Calgary, the city where he captured his first Stanley Cup as a member of the 1986 Montreal Canadiens. “That was a key moment in my career,” Roy said. “Winning in 1986, it gave a lift every young player needs. I was a rookie, and you want to establish yourself.” “By winning the Stanley Cup in your first year, it proved to the world that you can make a difference when crunch time comes.”
Roy, winner of four Stanley Cups with Montreal and Colorado, said coaches often suggested he deviate from the butterfly style of goaltending he eventually made famous. He credited goalie coach Francois Allaire with supporting him early in his career. Roy, co-owner, general manager and head coach of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was honoured to share the stage with his fellow inductees. “Hockey is so popular in Canada, sometimes it overshadows the other sports,” he said. “This really helps me look back at what I’ve done, and what the people around me have done, and how hard they have worked to get here.”
For Petitclerc, the induction was a validation of sorts. At age 13, the Quebec native lost the use of her legs after a barn door fell on her. Five years later, she discovered wheelchair racing and has since made history. Petitclerc captured 10 consecutive gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games, sweeping the 100 m, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m and 1500 m events. In total, she has claimed 21 medals over five Paralympics. Among her other accolades are the 2008 Lou Marsh Award, given to Canada’s top athlete and the United States Sports Academy’s Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC Disabled Athlete Award in June 2010.
Petitclerc was also appointed with a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2009. Petitclerc said Paralympians often don’t receive the recognition or accolades bestowed on “regular” athletes, something she hopes will continue to change. “As a country, we should be proud of how we recognize the Paralympics and our paralympians like we do regular athletes, because not all countries do,” she said. That change started to come following the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, an event Petitclerc described as a “second-class” games for the paralympic athletes. She said the organization, food, and accommodations were far different than what was offered to the regular athletes. There was a time where cities that were bidding on the Olympics did not have to tender a bid on the Paralympics.
Now, organizing committees must include both in their bid proposals, something that is increasing exposure to the Paralympics. Petitclerc, who also finished 24th in the wheelchair division of the 2010 New York City Marathon Nov. 7, said the Vancouver games were also a step forward. She was particularly thrilled to see the sledge hockey final sold out. Now retired from wheelchair racing, Petitclerc wants her legacy to be one of inspiration. Not only does she hope a new group of female Canadian athletes challenge her records, but she wants people to understand a bigger message. “I want people to understand that it is possible to overcome great obstacles.”