In­duc­tion more than Whit­field imag­ined

Olympic triathlon cham­pion among elite com­pany as he is en­shrined in hall

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - LORI EWING THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Si­mon Whit­field’s love af­fair with sports be­gan around a pot­hole on Couper Street in Kingston, Ont.

The hole in the road near his child­hood home be­came cen­tre ice, and Whit­field and his friends would gather there after school for a game of road hockey.

“All my sport­ing dreams were born there, all the ca­ma­raderie I en­joyed in sport, and this love of sport be­gan at that pot­hole,” Whit­field said. “I re­mem­ber it was dur­ing the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers’ hey­day, so you were al­lowed to be any­body but Wayne Gret­zky.

“Just your imag­i­na­tion and how it works, and you’re imag­in­ing your­self in this po­si­tion, and then years later you’re one of those ath­letes. And I think it all be­gins there. Think of that game you played as kids — ‘How about?’ and ‘Imag­ine if.’ That brought me right back to that. I don’t think I ever said ‘Imag­ine if I was in the hall of fame.’ ”

The Olympic triathlon cham­pion was one of nine in­di­vid­u­als in­ducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on Thurs­day, and like his hall of fame class­mates, the oc­ca­sion had Whit­field re­flect­ing on his “hum­ble be­gin­nings,” and his jour­ney to become one of the coun­try’s great­est ath­letes.

“You don’t pre­pare as an ath­lete for this,” Whit­field said. “You’re prepar­ing for these (com­pe­ti­tions) where you want to ex­press your gift, and then some­one calls you and says ‘You’re in the hall of fame . . . It’s also a nice end to the chap­ter, it was a big part of my life, and to be rec­og­nized for those sport­ing ac­com­plish­ments and then move on to the next thing.”

Whit­field joined Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Lanny McDon­ald, Olympians Carol Huynh and Cindy Klassen, golfer Mike Weir, lacrosse stand­out Gay­lord Pow­less and the Ed­mon­ton Grads women’s bas­ket­ball team. Neu­ro­sur­geon Dr. Charles Ta­tor and Cana­dian Par­a­lympic founder Dr. Robert W. Jack­son were named in the builder’s cat­e­gory. Pow­less and Jack­son were both hon­oured posthu­mously.

The 42-year-old Whit­field won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where triathlon made its de­but. McDon­ald, 64, amassed 500 goals and 506 as­sists in 1,111 ca­reer games with Toronto, Colorado and Cal­gary from 1973 to ‘89. He scored the win­ning goal to lead the Flames to their 1989 Stan­ley Cup, and then re­tired.

The high­light of Thurs­day’s news con­fer­ence came when Kay Mac­Beth, who at 95 is the only sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the Ed­mon­ton Grads, asked McDon­ald for a kiss. “How about that?” McDon­ald grinned through his still-bushy mous­tache.

His out­go­ing de­meanour and his The 38-year-old Klassen, from Win­nipeg, is Canada’s most dec­o­rated Win­ter Olympian with six medals (gold, two sil­ver, three bronze). Five came at the 2006 Turin Games (gold, two sil­ver, two bronze).

Weir, 47, be­came the first Cana­dian to cap­ture the Masters in 2003. The na­tive of Brights Grove, Ont., has regis­tered 15 pro wins and in 2000 be­came the first Cana­dian to play in the Pres­i­dents Cup.

The 36-year-old Huynh, who re­cently gave birth to her se­cond child and so wasn’t at Thurs­day’s event, be­came the first Cana­dian to win Olympic gold in women’s wrestling in Bei­jing in 2008. Four years later in Lon­don, the na­tive of Hazel­ton, B.C., claimed bronze. The Ed­mon­ton Grads amassed a stun­ning 502-20 record from 1915 to 1940.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

From left, Mike Weir, Si­mon Whit­field, Dr. Charles Ta­tor, Cindy Klassen, Lanny McDon­ald and Kay Mac­Beth (front) were in­ducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on Thurs­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.