Athlete Leaders Curt Harnett and Jane Thornton Recognized with AthletesCAN Awards

September 26, 2015 – (Mississauga, ON) – AthletesCAN is pleased to announce that Curt Harnett and Jane Thornton are the recipients of the 2015 Athlete Leadership Award and Athlete Social Responsibility Award. The pair was honoured Saturday at the 2015 AthletesCAN Forum in Mississauga, ON.

Athlete Leadership Award – Curt Harnett

Sponsored by Purolator, Inc., the AthletesCAN Leadership Award recognizes the contributions of Canadian athlete leaders and celebrates the importance of athlete representatives and the successes they have achieved through their work as leaders and change agents.

Curt Harnett is 31-time national 250 m track cycling champion, a three-time Olympian, and a former world record holder. His leadership contributions to Canadian athletes and sport both on and off the track are numerous.

“As a Canadian company, Purolator is proud to support AthletesCAN; and we congratulate Curt Harnett on his receipt of the 2015 AthletesCAN Leadership Award, as well as on his profound success as a leader in sport”, says Brian Collins, Manager, Corporate Partnerships, Purolator Inc. "Curt’s longstanding leadership in sport and continued work as an advocate and a role model for his peers across Canada has inspired many of our country’s determined athletes to achieve greatness.”

Curt has held a number of board positions in sport including with the Canadian Cycling Association, Canadian Olympic Committee, AthletesCAN, World Bicycle Relief Canada, and the City of Toronto’s bid for the 2008 Olympics, focusing on athlete advocacy.  Most recently, he was Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, ON and was Canada’s assistant Chef de Mission for the 2011 Pan American Games Guadalajara, Mexico.

"I am honoured to have been chosen for this year’s AthletesCAN Leadership Award”, says Curt.  “Team Canada’s achievement at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Para Pan am Games was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by many people and I am honoured to have been a part of that journey. Canada showed its tremendous passion for sport this summer and I look forward to witnessing the impact the Year of Sport had on Canadians for generations to come."

Curt has numerous Canadian sport awards to his name and has been inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sport Hall of Fame and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Curt is heavily involved in numerous charities across Canada with a strong affinity to Special Olympics Canada and Right to Play.

Curt keeps his passion for sport alive through motivational speaking, writing, broadcasting (he attended the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games as a colour commentator for CBC Sports), and promoting and mentoring aspiring athletes.

Athlete Social Responsibility – Jane (Rumball) Thornton

AthletesCAN recognizes that athlete social responsibility (ASR) leaders play a crucial role in building a healthier, more active global population. The ASR award celebrates the importance of athletes giving back, honours the impact athletes have achieved through their volunteer work as role models in their communities, and encourages former athletes to stay connected to the sport community.

Jane Thornton was a member of the national rowing team from 2001 to 2011. Her accomplishments on the water include the 2006 world championship in women’s pair with partner Darcy Marquardt, three World Cup medals in women’s pair and women’s eight, three national championships and six national university championships, and she was a member of Canada’s women’s eight team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

During her time on the national team and since her retirement, Jane has been very active in promoting, sport, health and physical activity. As a physician, Jane has lent her medical expertise to numerous high-profile sporting organizations including being a member of the Canadian Olympic Medical Team for the Athens and Sochi Olympics, and a member of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Athletes Advisory Council – Medical. She is currently medical advisor to the International Olympic Committee, World Rowing Federation, Luxembourg Institute of Health – Sport Santé website, and website, where she contributes physical activity and health information. Jane is also an athlete ambassador at Right to Play Canada.

Over her career, Jane has been awarded the Rowing Canada Award of Merit in recognition of exceptional service to rowing as a competitive athlete, the Rowing Canada Centennial Medal for outstanding contribution to rowing in Canada, the Rowing Canada International Achievement Award, and the Inaugural Canadian University Rowing Female Athlete of the Year.

“Jane has shown tremendous dedication to promoting the benefits of an active lifestyle throughout her athletic career and continues to do so,” says AthletesCAN Board Member Caroline Calvé. “As a medical doctor and Olympian, she is creatively combining her knowledge and experience to develop original initiatives that benefit not only the community but also the Canadian and international sport landscapes. Jane is a perfect example of and athlete leader who has given so much to improve the lives and experiences of others around the world through sport.”

Presently, Jane is leading the creation of an Athlete Social Responsibility portal for the World Rowing Federation’s (FISA) website, titled Athlete Transition, which can be found on the FISA Athlete Zone site. The goal of Athlete Transition and Athlete Zone is to develop network of current and former Olympic rowers to raise awareness and promote ASR. Athlete Transition is launching in October 2015 with plans to grow to include mentoring, international development and athlete support for transitioning from elite sport.

"This award recognizes what we athletes can so easily take for granted, that sport has the power to transform lives and shape society for the better,” says Jane. “Receiving this honour is truly humbling because of the so many heroes of social responsibility making a difference throughout Canada and the world. I hope it can inspire even more athletes that giving back doesn't require an Olympic gold medal or a string of world records, but the same dedication and commitment to excellence that each athlete has taken years to build through sport. These qualities can be transferred over to contributing to a better world years after our sporting careers have finished, and really, for the rest of our lives."

For more information, please contact:

Ashley LaBrie
Interim Executive Director
(613) 526-4025 x224
[email protected]

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