Clara Hughes joins Olympic Oval honorees on Wall of Champions during ceremony at ISU Essent World Cup Speed Skating

Clara Hughes joins Olympic Oval honorees on Wall of Champions during ceremony at ISU Essent World Cup Speed Skating

Four-time Olympic speed skating medalist becomes sixth member of gallery

Calgary, Nov. 9, 2013 – Clara Hughes’ bright smile returned to The Olympic Oval Saturday as the Canadian Olympic great joined the Wall of Champions. The six-time Olympic medallist, who hails from Winnipeg, Man., was honoured during a ceremony at the ISU Essent World Cup Speed Skating.

“It means the world to me as a speed skater,” said Clara Hughes after the ceremony. “It doesn’t get much better to have your picture on the wall on the fastest ice on earth beside Catriona Le May Doan, Susan Auch, Jeremy Wotherspoon, Kevin Crockett, and Kristina Groves. “For me it really is another indication that it’s the end, that I’m never going back to competition. I’m totally OK with that.”

The photo used is from her bronze medal-performance in the 5000m at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. “It’s a race I’ll never forget, skating at home and skating the race of my life technically. It was beautiful poetry in motion and the movement is what I dreamed it would be that day.”

Hughes won four Olympic medals in speed skating during her career, including gold in the 5000 metres and silver in Team Pursuit in Torino, Italy in 2006 and bronze in 5000m in Salt Lake City in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010.

She also won a pair of bronze medals in cycling at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga.

The ceremony comes during the 25th anniversary of the Oval, which was built to host speed skating for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Hughes trained at the Oval from 2000 to 2010.

Former teammate Christine Nesbitt spoke glowingly about Hughes after her races Saturday at the Oval. “She showed me when I was coming up through the ranks what it was like to be focused and determined and not take anything from anyone because you are there to do a job and be the best you can be,” said Nesbitt, the 2010 Olympic 1000m champion. “That’s the best way you can show respect for everyone who puts in all the work for you, like your coaches and physio and your teammates. Because, everyone helps you get to the top of the podium.”

Action at the ISU Essent World Cup Speed Skating continues Sunday with races beginning at 11 a.m.