KENORA – The Olympic Games have officially started in PyeongChang, South Korea. Over the next month, Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes will serve as a source of inspiration and great pride for all Canadians. I would like to encourage all of us in Northwestern Ontario and across the country to rally behind our athletes as they represent us on an international stage.
It takes the whole country’s support to send Canadian athletes to PyeongChang, which is why the federal government is the single largest investor in our Canada’s sport system. We are proud of our partnerships with the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, national sport organizations, and valued partners like Own the Podium and the Coaching Association of Canada.
Our riding has a storied Olympic history of its own. Eric Radford, who grew up in Balmertown, will be adding to that history in PyeongChang. Radford competed in Pairs figure skating along with his longtime skating partner, Meagan Duhamel, in the 2014 Sochi Games. Radford took home a team silver medal at those Games. He and Duhamel will once again represent Canada at the Olympics in South Korea.
Like many Canadians, we take hockey seriously. It’s no wonder then that we can boast about having multiple Olympic gold medal-winning hockey players from the riding. Dryden’s Chris Pronger represented Canada on four different Olympic teams from 1998-2010, winning gold in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. Pronger was joined by Kenora native Mike Richards on that 2010 gold medal-winning team in Vancouver.
To name a few other Olympic athletes hailing from our riding, Megan Imrie is well known on the international stage. A staple in the biathlon, she took part in both the Vancouver and Sochi Winter Olympic Games before her retirement in 2014.
Coincidently, South Korea is where Kenora’s own Michael Smith participated in his first Olympic Games in 1988. The decathlon great competed in three Olympics’ throughout his career. As many of you know, he even served as the flag bearer for Canada during the opening ceremony of the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
More recently, and perhaps unsurprisingly with all of the beautiful lakes in our region, we’ve seen our exceptional local athletes succeeding in swimming. Santo Condorelli, who calls Kenora home, finished in fourth place of the 100-meter freestyle in Rio two years ago. At only 23 years of age, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Condorelli in the next summer Olympics which will be held in Tokyo two years from now.
Another budding star in the swimming pool to keep an eye out for is Gabe Mastromatteo. The Kenora teenager has already participated in the Canadian Olympic trials and has consistently found himself atop the podium in national events.
The Olympics are truly a time to be celebrated. For the athletes, it’s the culmination of a lifelong dedication to training that comes along with the honour of representing your country on a world stage. Our country’s story is filled with inspiring moments brought to us by our Olympic and Paralympic athletes. These moments are emulated in backyards, local parks and on sport fields throughout the country.
Canadians have made a big investment in our athletes, so we proudly share in their success – in Canada’s success. I hope everyone enjoys all of the events in PyeongChang and comes together to celebrate our own, as they compete against the rest of the world.
Bob Nault MP