Olympian Clara Hughes will bring inspiration to Sault Ste. Marie

The Olympians are coming! The Olympians are coming!

Even though hearing the word “Olympian” in Sault Ste. Marie is not uncommon, take note this time — Clara Hughes is speaking here Oct. 23, 2010, and as a bonus, hometown girl Brigitte Acton will be introducing her.

Hughes is the only athlete in Olympic history to win multiple medals in both winter and summer Games, and she’s the keynote speaker for this year’s Women’s Leadership Conference. The “Celebrate 2010” conference takes place Oct. 22 and 23 at Algoma’s Water Tower Inn & Suites, with Hughes speaking on the 23rd.

A double Olympic bronze medallist in cycling at the 1996 Summer Games, a bronze medallist in speed skating at the 2002 Winter Games, a gold and silver medalist in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, and of course a bronze medalist in Vancouver, Hughes feels that sport is a metaphor for life.

She brings a positive message of the power of sport, and encourages causes that help everyone get involved in sport to better their lives through exercise, teamwork, and a bit of healthy competition.

Hughes said recently “to really feel alive is to strive, to fail and succeed, to feel the satisfaction of having a goal, a dream, and pouring one’s heart and soul into it.”

I like the message so far, and need the reminder, since lately I’ve lost track of my dreams and priorities and found myself seriously derailed.

Striving doesn’t always lead to success, but that is OK, since there is a lot to learn from failure, especially if we are willing to be self-critical.

She says, “I love what I do, whatever I am doing.” While loving everything you do may seem like a stretch to some, at least, we can look at things in a less critical or cynical nature and seek out more joy in the everyday things. At best, we can strive to change our lives in more significant manners so that we can all say we love what we do.

“Life is too short for negativity…”

Life is short. I remember being stunned when I heard it was August, and then September, and now the month is almost over. I have truly been living in a reckless blur, and it seems that life has only been getting faster. When I talk to seniors, they always say to enjoy life, because it will be over before you know it. Grandparents remind me to love “now” with the kids because it will be over in a blink. Considering I really don’t remember July, August and September, I am becoming more inclined to believe this. I need to carve out moments of “slow” to rejuvenate myself.

Life is too short for negativity. The problem is that sometimes it takes an outside event or person to show us just how negative we have become. Worse than that, we may lose people we cherish before we can pull the nose of the plane back up. When that happens, we can do nothing but ask for forgiveness, regardless of the outcome, and hope they will remember the people we were before the nosedive. Then it is our job to get ourselves back on track, focused like Olympians on the important priorities in our lives.

One of Hughes’ important priorities is supporting Right to Play, an organization that uses sport for children and youth in developing countries and underprivileged areas around the world.

Hughes, in addition to her gaggle of medals, was honoured as Officer of the Order of Canada and is the recipient of the International Olympic Committee’s Sport Community award. The 2010 Games were her last as an athlete, which is probably a good thing, after all, where would she put yet another pesky medal? She is now focused on sharing her experiences and passion for sport. Unfortunately, for the organizers, her message, though important for everyone, doesn’t come cheap. Support the event by buying tickets, or a table, or sponsoring the event.

Organizers welcome the whole community to the presentation, and hope that families will attend together to hear her message. The cost is $20 for adults and $15 for youth. To register, or for more information, visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *