Reception in Honour of the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Teams
Rideau Hall, Wednesday, June 4, 2014
What a thrill it is to welcome you all to Rideau Hall, the home of the people of Canada!
Throughout the year, people from all walks of life gather at Rideau Hall to honour excellence and to celebrate outstanding achievements, which is why you, our Canadian Olympians and Paralympians, are here today.
For three weeks in February, you competed at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, testing your skills, strength and stamina against the world’s top athletes on the greatest stage in sports.
Just getting there required outstanding talent, endurance and perseverance, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to congratulate you on behalf of all Canadians.
As Olympians, you also brought home an impressive 25 medals, placing Canada among the top countries in the medal count.
As Paralympians, you brought home 16 medals—a tally that also put Canada near the top of the chart.
Together, you performed brilliantly and you made all of us very proud.
My wife, Sharon, and I watched as many of the events as possible. In fact, we watched the men’s gold medal hockey game from the Canadian embassy in India, where we were conducting a State visit. And I watched the women’s gold medal game while giving a luncheon address to the Canadian Media Production Association and we showed the progress of the game on the screen and ended by singing O Canada.
Here at home, of course, the nation was captivated by your efforts. You provided us with high drama, and inspiring stories of courage, determination and athleticism.
You also inspired us with your displays of sportsmanship and fair play. Who could ever forget the sight of Justin Wadsworth, Canada’s cross-country skiing coach, giving a spare ski to a competitor who had broken his own?
It is no exaggeration to say that as Olympic and Paralympic athletes and coaches, you represent Canada on the global stage—and, as you always do, you made us proud this past February.
Your appearance and your success at the Sochi Olympics was the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication. A great deal of physical, emotional and financial sacrifice is needed to compete at that level.
I know you will agree that the support of your coaches, as well as that of your families, friends and supporters, is a crucial component in your success.
Success at the Olympic and Paralympic level is, in part, the result of a great deal of collaboration. It is simply not possible to compete with the best in the world without a strong community of true believers.
That Canada has produced such talented athletes and incredible ambassadors makes me optimistic about the strength of our country as a whole.
I would like to thank Mr. Marcel Aubut, President of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Dr. Gaétan Tardif, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, for showing such inspired leadership before, during and after these Winter Olympics.
Canada’s presence in Sochi was truly a team effort, and let me again congratulate you on your wonderful performances at the Games.
Thank you for inspiring Canadians with your athleticism, your courage and your sense of fair play.
I wish you all the very best.