Sports » Features

Hughes to carry the Olympic flag


Five-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes was an obvious choice to carry the flag for Team Canada into the opening ceremonies at B.C. Place on Feb. 12, both as recognition of her sporting achievements as well as her humanitarian work with groups like Right To Play.

Hughes, 37, will march into the stadium at the head of a column of 206 athletes, the biggest team Canada has ever qualified for a Winter Games.

"Leading the Team into B.C. Place is something I look forward to because of the world class Canadian athletes beside me and the inspiring stories behind each one of them," said Hughes.

"These Games will have a profound impact on every Canadian, fostering so many hopes and dreams. I remember being that young person and seeing the Games in Calgary - that was the beginning of my amazing journey that has brought me here today."

Hughes' career as an athlete is as distinguished as it is long. She is the only athlete to have won multiple medals in both the summer and winter Games after beginning her career as a road cyclist. She won two bronze medals in Atlanta, in the time trial and road race.

Soon after she got into speed skating, and in 2002 at Salt Lake she became the first Canadian to medal at both the Summer and Winter Games with a bronze medal in the 5,000 metre race.

She was back on the podium at the 2006 Games in Torino, this time winning the 5,000-metre event and placing second in the Team Pursuit event.

While the Canadian short- and long-track speed skating teams have been hit hard by injuries as well as a turnover of athletes, the team is hoping to match or beat its tally of eight medals in Torino.

Following the 2006 Winter Games, Hughes donated $10,000 to Right To Play, an organization that coordinates sports and recreation in communities that have been devastated by poverty and war. She remains active with the organization.

Hughes is an Officer of the Order of Canada as well as a Member of the Order of Manitoba, her home province. She has an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Manitoba.