Olympians of Team Canada occupied the seats in City Council Chambers after recently returning from the Winter Games in Beijing.
Athletes were present for the Council Recognition of Calgary-based 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Team Members on Tuesday.
The Olympic Team won 26 medals and the Paralympic Team brought home 25. Both are each teams’ second-best performances, according to Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
“These athletes [have] faced so many challenges this year, not just in their sport, but to arrive and compete safely in Beijing,” said Gondek.
“To all of you who are here today, you made Calgarians proud by being at the Games and representing our country so well. We were filled with pride when we watched you. Your performances created memories that are going to stay with us for so many years to come,” she said.
Blayre Turnbull, an Olympic ice hockey player for Team Canada, thanked council for their support through such trying times.
“One of the greatest things about returning home from the Olympic or Paralympic Games is being able to share our stories, memories, and if you’re lucky enough, to win a medal … with everybody who’s supporting you, so it’s really special for us to be here,” Turnbull said.
Athletes have had to deal with ever-changing rules and restrictions during the past two years, she said. They dealt with gym closures, along with tournaments and events being cancelled or postponed. Turnbull said the top priority of the team was to stay healthy.
Athlete challenges during the pandemic
Olympic champion speed skater and Beijing Chef de Mission, Catriona Le May Doan, further highlighted the pandemic challenges athletes have faced.
“For Canadian athletes, to see them compete, to get on the ground to overcome all of those [issues] … to see them competing in Beijing was a huge success and it was an inspiration to every single one of us,” Le May Doan said.
“Many of us, we were inspired by 1988 and I was a product of that with the Olympic Oval. Many of these athletes are inspired by 2010. But imagine the youth of our community that have been inspired by these team members.”
Le May Doan said many athletes move to Calgary for the incredible facilities, the coaches, and the environment that allows them to live out their dream of competing for Canada. She encouraged everybody to continue to allow sport to unite the community at every level.
“We need to continue as a community to make sport a priority. To break down those barriers so that the youth who are inspired by these Olympians and Paralympians can participate in sport,” Le May Doan said.
“We need that for the healing of our community. We need that for the health of our community, mentally, physically, and socially. And so I urge all of us to make sport a priority.”