Supporting Canadian Athletes


Adam van Koeverden (Olympic Champion – Kayak)

As athletes, we’re incredibly fortunate. We’re fortunate enough to have the luxury to complain about the things we want or need in training, where the Canadian sport system is seemingly failing us, about how unsupportive our universities are sometimes, about a middle seat on an airplane to a competition, or how crappy the weather is for training some days. I would characterize these as first-world problems. At some point, it’s really important for us all to recognize that we get to do what we love every single day, and for that reason, we’re very lucky people.

Every athlete was an inspired kid at some point, and I think that’s a cycle which we’re obligated to sustain. Being a great role-model, leading by example, and taking an active role in our communities and local schools are all ways to affect positive change in our youth, and ensure that the next generations of athletes have people to look up to, just like we did.  The word “Champion” has two meanings: a person who wins a competition and someone who fights for a cause. As athletes we have an awesome opportunity to champion causes which we feel strongly about. There are so many charities, foundations and causes out there to choose from, that every athlete’s passion, personal experience or story can serve to promote or advocate one or more. It feels great to win, but it feels profoundly gratifying to use what you’ve just won to promote something of importance.

Jennifer Heil (Olympic Champion – Freestyle Skiing)

So many Canadian athletes are engaged with their communities and are making a difference. Being in a position to use my voice and to have a positive impact in the lives of others is most fulfilling.

Clara Hughes (Multi Olympic medalist – Cycling & Speed Skating)

I learned as a young athlete that this notion of giving back is very much the Canadian way, a trait that is natural in us as a nation – natural because of our history. It is what we do and I saw this when traveling the globe, representing Canada, and seeing the work of CIDA and Canadian volunteers in all corners of the globe. To all of the athletes out there: realize that not only can you be inspiring; you can also be inspired. Connecting with others and understanding the human condition is the greatest victory one can have in sport, and in life, too!

Adam Kreek (Olympic medalist – Rowing)

Giving back is about getting more energy.  In life, there are commitments that leave you drained of energy, then there are commitments that leave you energized once the task is complete.  These latter commitments seem to defy newtonian physics, and are the reasons why I give back.  It took a lot of experimentation until I found the community involvement that optimized my energy, but it was worth it!

Erin Carter (Olympic medalist – Cycling)

Sport began as an outlet for the British-elite, grew into a global forum for peace, and now is on a trajectory to become just another Hollywood fixture – something to watch, but not be a part of. We need to ask ourselves not only what kind of sport do we want, but what kind of athletes do we want and moreover what can athletes do for helping create a value-based sport system? Through my experiences and involvement with AthletesCAN, I have become aware of a pivotal ideological shift in the social consciousness of elite athletes in Canada. To that end, I decided to pursue a Masters Degree to investigate the motivations and implications of social responsibility among elite athlete populations. Through my research I found that athlete social responsibility can and does have a positive impact on an athlete’s overall performance, personal development, and continued sport participation.

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