Canadian Olympic Foundation Cultivation Event
London, England, Sunday, July 29, 2012
I am delighted to be with you in London at the outset of the Olympic Games.
For the next three weeks, the finest athletes from around the world will test their skills, strength and stamina on the greatest stage in sports.
Today’s gathering reminds us that, in addition to the incredible skill and perseverance needed to reach the Games, there is another factor at play in the success of our Olympians.
I’m talking about the support and encouragement they get along the way from those who back their Olympic dream.
As governor general of Canada, I hope to help foster a smarter, more caring nation and a fairer, more just world. One of the ways we do this is by deepening our commitment to giving, by becoming a society of volunteers and philanthropists.
The wonderful thing about giving is that it can take so many forms, and help so many different people. In a democracy, everyone has something to give—be it time, talent or resources.
This is true of sport as well. As any Olympian will tell you, the journey towards excellence is not possible without the generosity of others—from parents to coaches to those who simply love sports and support our athletes.
Allow me to share a personal example from my teenage years playing amateur hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
At that time, I had never owned a new piece of hockey equipment. When word got around one day that a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs was coming to town, a local sporting goods store owner—not a man of great wealth—came to me and said, “I have something for you.”
It was a new pair of skates.
I scored three goals that night, and while I never played for the Maple Leafs, I will never forget the generosity of that man.
As much as those new skates propelled me, I believe his faith in my abilities had an equally significant impact on my performance and confidence level. And again, as every Olympian understands, confidence is among the keys to success.
A smart and caring nation recognizes the importance of physical activity to our health and well-being, and support of Canada’s top-tier athletes also has a broader impact on our society. By helping our Olympians and providing role models in sport, we are also encouraging Canadians to live healthier, more active lifestyles.
As patron of the Canadian Olympic Committee, I am pleased to see you gathered here in support of our finest athletes and sport in Canada.
Thank you for your generosity, and enjoy the Games!