Amid a Historic Year, Canada Celebrates Olympic Day

In the midst of a historic year for the Olympic Movement in Canada, which featured the vastly successful Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, an Olympic athlete parade in Montreal in front of tens of thousands of supporters as well as the upcoming inaugural Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee today recognizes International Olympic Day. Around the world, on June 23, countries honour the birth of the modern Olympic Movement and celebrate the values of Olympism.

Olympic Day commemorates the 1894 founding date of the International Olympic Committee and the modern Olympic Movement, as well as the values that underpin it. On this day 12 decades ago, France’s Baron Pierre de Coubertin inspired a group of sport-minded individuals from many countries to consider a series of Games to be held in the future, along ideals that guide their organization. The ultimate goal of what became the Olympic Movement: to promote participation in sport across the globe regardless of age, gender or athletic ability.

This year, Olympic Day marks a stunning performance by Canadian Olympians at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, with a myriad of impressive efforts highlighted by a record 14 gold medals. These Games united Canadians from coast to coast to coast, driving a swell of Olympic spirit that has changed the dynamic of the Olympic Movement in this country. The transformative Games of 2010 will be followed by the Singapore Youth Games, which will pave an entirely new direction for the Olympic Movement. New generations of young Canadians will become engaged, increase their activity in sport, and garner a deeper understanding for the Olympic values: excellence, friendship and respect.

In all, today is a day to celebrate what Olympism means to the world, and who better to articulate it than Olympians themselves:

“Olympic Day is a way of celebrating the success of our Canadian athletes, of our country, and of our passion for believing in the dreams of our youth in sport. The Olympics brought our country together and I believe we can carry this passion forward.” – Catriona Le May Doan, double Olympic gold medallist, bronze medallist, speed skating

“I think Olympic Day has a whole new meaning to Canadians than it did a year ago. After the 2010 Olympic Games, Canada has a new sense of pride and appreciation for their athletes. In my case, Canada chose to be compassionate and over 10,000 people reached out to support me with emails and handwritten letters. Going forward, I’m so excited to see Canadian pride and support for our athletes & I know this will generate more participation at the grass roots level so we can continue to strive for Olympic excellence.” – Mellisa Hollingsworth, Olympic bronze medallist, skeleton

“The Vancouver Games showed us the true power of sport and how it can unite a country. One of the key lessons from the Games is that if you aim high and believe, great things can be achieved.” – Alex Baumann, double Olympic gold medallist, swimming, and Interim Chief Executive Officer, Own The Podium

“Olympic Day is a way to bring attention to the importance of sport and how it affects our daily lives. Sport is a great way to make friends and get involved in the community, start and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and to promote pride for your team, sport, and country.” – Carol Huynh, Olympic gold medallist, wrestling

“The anniversary of Pierre de Coubertin’s revival of the Olympic Movement shows the power and breadth of human initiative and potential. A platform was created 120 years ago where dreams are created to this day, and personally I couldn’t be more grateful for that.” – Adam van Koeverden, Olympic gold, silver and bronze medallist, kayak

“The Olympic Movement is something I try to base my entire life around. The idea of pursuing fair sport and having the ability to represent my country internationally is truly a unique opportunity for which I am constantly thankful. I believe the Olympic Movement is an idea that encompasses clean competition and healthy living; something which can be applied to everyone’s lives, athletes or not.” – Ryan Cochrane, Olympic bronze medallist, swimming

“For an athlete, training for the Olympics, it is something we think about every day. It is our daily purpose and passion. It’s pretty cool when you get this random day in June, whether it’s an Olympic year or not, leading into a summer or winter Olympics, when other people take a moment to think that the Games are more than something that happen for 16 days every other year, and that they are more than just sport. It’s a lifestyle. It’s kind of nice to think that it’s not all forgotten in between.” – Marnie McBean, three-time Olympic gold medallist and bronze medallist, rowing

“The Olympics bring all of Canada together. I love the way it excites so many children and how it motivates them to become active and want to represent Canada at the Olympics one day! Whether or not they do, they are getting involved in physical activity and sport, which is so positive in itself.” – Vicky Sunohara, double Olympic gold medallist, silver medallist, ice hockey

“The Olympic Movement is an extraordinary way to unite our nation around the values of excellence and passion. It is a powerful force that helps ignite not only children’s dreams, but society’s goals to take pride in their work and to respect one another. A day to remind us of this is a great idea but the Olympic Movement must be part of our developmental plans, not only on June 23rd or 16 days every two years, but rather every day.” – Nathalie Lambert, Olympic gold and double silver medallist, short track speed skating

“Olympic Day is a time to reflect upon all the amazing memories and moments we as Canadians have experienced. It is a day for excitement , joy and anticipation for what the future can hold. The Olympics bring everyone from all over the world, regardless of race, colour or creed, together for 16 unforgettable days. We are all one family as we support and cheer on fellow athletes. As one myself, it’s been my goal since I was a kid to be an Olympian and win a gold medal. I was inspired by greatness and will continue to inspire others through my story. Dreams do come true if you’re willing and able to pursue them, work hard dream big and believe!” – Kaillie Humphries, Olympic gold medallist, bobsleigh

“Today we should celebrate the pursuit of the Olympic dream, admire those who try, and realize that whether we pursue or admire, we are all a part of something truly magnificent.” – Callum Ng, 2010 Canadian Youth Olympic Games Young Ambassador

Also on this very special day, the COC would like to extend happy birthday wishes to Canadian Olympian, COC life president and honorary IOC member James Worrall, 1936 Berlin Games, who turns 96 today.