Canada’s diversity is reflected in its Olympic teams. Track and field athletes Donovan Bailey, Mark McKoy, Robert Esmie, Glenroy Gilbert and Bruny Surin migrated from the Caribbean while Daniel Igali came to Canada with the Nigerian Commonwealth Games wrestling team in 1994 and remained here while seeking refugee status. He was granted citizenship four years later.
These elite athletes, now retired, have brought glory to Canada with Olympic gold medals while Jamaican-born Charmaine Crooks was this country’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
At the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver, bobsledders Shelley-Ann Brown – the daughter of Jamaican immigrants – was the first Black woman to win a Winter Olympics medal while Lascelles Brown was the first Jamaican-born athlete to win a Winter Olympic medal while representing Canada.
At an ethnic media reception last week, Canadian Olympic Association chief executive officer and secretary general, Chris Overholt, recognized the contributions that athletes from diverse communities have made while representing Canada and the significant role the multicultural media plays in sharing the athletes’ success.
“The Canada we know and love has a dynamic and ethnically diverse population,” said Overholt. “We are proud of our country as one that represents a cultural and ethnic mosaic that is known to few nations around the world. The diversity is our strength. It is enduring and defining and it is, in many ways, our international calling card. It’s reflected appropriately in our classrooms, our boardrooms and our media partners across the country.
“Millions of individuals and families receive their news from media organizations like the ones represented here tonight. So, as the Canadian Olympic team works to connect all Canadians with our Olympic team, we consider those of you in the multicultural media an essential part of making that happen.”
Several Olympians attended the event and shared their sports aspirations with journalists.
“The Canadian Olympic team resonates with Canadians,” said Overholt. “It’s the team that represents the emotional connection that we all share when we watch that once-in-a-lifetime performance. And’ it’s the team that defines our place. Sport is our core business and the athletes are at the heart of our brand. They are our reason, our purpose and our mission…Our job is to share our athletes’ stories with you so that you can share them with Canadians across the country. Together, we can demonstrate the power of sport and its important place in our heritage.”
Tabia Charles, a finalist in the long jump in Beijing, said her participation in the Olympics was a rare experience.
“Entering the stadium for the first time to the cheers of thousands of people is something that will always stay with me,” said Charles of her first Games participation. “Outside of winning, few things in sport can be so thrilling. It’s something I will always relish.”
By RON FANFAIR