Clara Hughes Named Canada’s Flag Bearer for 2010 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony

Ottawa, January 29, 2010 – Speed Skating Canada (SSC) wishes to congratulate Clara Hughes (Glen Sutton, QC) on being named Canada’s flag bearer for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony. The announcement was made by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) moments ago in Richmond, BC, home of next month’s speed skating competitions.

“We believe that no athlete is more deserving of the honour of carrying Canada’s flag on home soil than Clara,” said Jean R. Dupré, Director General of Speed Skating Canada. “She embodies both Speed Skating Canada and the Olympic values on and off the ice. Clara has been a wonderful ambassador for our sport for the past 10 years, and it will be great to see her walk in front of her fellow Canadian Olympic Team members in two weeks’ time.”

This will be a fifth Olympic experience for Hughes, who was a member of Canada’s cycling team in 1996, where she won a pair of bronze medals, and 2000, before joining the speed skating team for the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games, where she won a total of three medals, one of each colour. In Vancouver, the 37 year old athlete will try to defend her 5000m Olympic title.

Aside from her impressive athletic career, the Winnipeg native has an impressive resumé. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Order of Manitoba, and does extensive humanitarian work with Right to Play, the international organization using sport and play to better the lives of the worlds most impoverished children. Clara Hughes inspires many Canadians to push back their limits, and to believe that anything is possible when you set your mind to it and are willing to put in enough efforts.

“This is without a doubt the greatest honour of my sporting life,” said Hughes. “Leading the Team into BC 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. 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.”

After Clara Hughes carries the flag into the stadium and watches the Opening Ceremony with her teammates, she will have one day to finalize her preparation for the first race of her last Olympic Games, as she is taking part in the 3000m event on Day 2. Her specialty, the 5000m, will not be raced until much later, on February 24th.

Hughes becomes the fourth speed skater to carry the flag into an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, following in the steps of Gaétan Boucher (1984), Sylvie Daigle (1992) and Catriona Le May Doan (2002). SSC’s Olympic speed skaters will be proud to follow Clara into BC Place on February 12, before they embark on their 16-day Olympic Journey.