Posted by: Jack Hope | Sunday July 29, 2012

Canada’s Greatest Olympian

Originally posted to Flickr as Clara Hughes on Walk of Fame 2 by Tabercil

Canada is home to a lot of great and well-known athletes, particularly in Hockey. Many have heard of Sidney Crosby, Donovan Bailey, Tim Horton, Steve Nash, and Terry Fox. Everyone has heard of Wayne Gretzky.

And another name that comes to my mind with this assortment of well-known greats is Clara Hughes.

She’s a personal hero of mine and she should be a household name everywhere as one of the world’s finest athletes and a terrific person. Her story inspires me in my fight with Depression.

For starters, Ms. Hughes is one of the world’s greatest Olympians. She’s the holder of six medals (4 Bronze, 1 Silver and 1 Gold) tied with Cindy Klassen as the Canadian to hold the most medals.

But unlike any other Olympian in history so far, she holds her medals from both the Summer and Winter Olympics. There are, to date, only 5 people who have ever won medals at both the Summer and Winter Games and Ms Hughes is the only one to have won multiple medals in both sets of Olympics. She is the only Canadian among these 5 unique athletes.

And she’s doing it again, as a part of Team Canada at London 2012 she’ll be competing again, returning to the Summer Olympics for what will be her last Olympic Games. No matter what happens, her athletic achievements have already placed her among Canada’s greats.

And while all of this is amazing, it’s really not enough by itself for me to consider her a personal hero. Worthy of praise, amazing and excellent accomplishments? Absolutely. But I am big believer that one cannot be a hero based solely upon athletic prowess, no matter how amazing.

No, what makes Clara Hughes a hero in my eyes is that she went public about her own personal battle with Depression. And she even went as far as appearing in a series of commercials that were aired nationally in support of those struggling with mental illness, to raise money and to tackle the stigma that surrounds these conditions.

This is someone who could have just as easily kept her privacy, not spoken about what she had been through. She could have had her fame and acclaim for her sports accomplishments and just left it at that. She didn’t have to share this experience with the world, but she did.

That makes her a hero to me. That makes her our nation’s greatest Olympian.

She inspires me. Inspires me to push on, to keep on my battle. I’m never going to win an Olympic medal (but I swear to God if I ever win a dragonboat medal I will feel Olympian) and I’m never going to be famous across Canada.

But I am going to have a great life. I have to believe that. And Clara Hughes reminds me that it is possible to overcome my Depression and go on to pursue the things that I want in my life.

And I hope she continues to inspire all Canadians but especially the mentally ill everywhere, that we can find a path to recovery.

Here’s a great interview of Clara Hughes by George Strombolopolous from 2011:

You can find Clara Hughes website and more information about her here:



  1. Her voice calms me.

    • Another fantastic reason to consider her an amazing Olympian. 🙂

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