Canadians don’t always have a lot of skin in the Olympic Summer Games. Our biggest year for medals was 44 in 1984, but our best year was probably 1996 in Atlanta. That was the year Donovan Bailey won the men’s 100m with a new world record time. It wasn’t just a big deal for Canada to win gold at one of the premier Olympic events. It was a big deal because the last time we won it, Ben Johnson tested positive for steroids. Donovan Bailey restored our pride in sport.
Clara Hughes was also at those Games. She won two bronze medals, in both women’s road cycling events: the race and the time trial. She was 23 then. She has won four more medals since, at three more Olympic Games—Winter Games, where she competes in long track speed skating. Clara Hughes is still the only Olympian in history to win multiple medals at both the Summer and Winter Games.
Clara retired after winning another bronze medal at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. I wasn’t sad at all because she’s had an amazing career, and there’s something about going out at home, and I knew she would keep doing amazing things, with Right to Play, especially.
Then she announced she’s getting back on the bike and will compete at the 2012 Games in London. Clara is 39 now, but you don’t want to bet against her. Canadians took the podium, 1, 2, 3, in the time trial prologue to the Exergy Tour, racing in Idaho right now.
You know how some athletes keep coming back because they’re looking for that one big win? They’ve got bronze, they’ve got silver, but they haven’t won gold? Clara Hughes has the whole collection. She has the medals and the records. She doesn’t need anything else to prove herself one of Canada’s best athletes.
She just really likes riding her bike.