Clara Hughes, OC, cyclist, speed skater, humanitarian (born 27 September 1972 in Winnipeg, MB).
Clara Hughes is the only Canadian athlete to have won medals at both the Olympic Summer and Olympic Winter Games, winning two medals in cycling and four medals in speed skating.
She and fellow speed skater Cindy Klassen have six Olympic medals each, the most of any Canadian athlete.
Hughes has won a combined total of 35 national championships in road cycling, track cycling, and speed skating; she has also won eight medals in cycling at the Pan American Games and three medals in cycling at the Commonwealth Games.
After winning gold in 2006, Clara donated $10,000 of her personal savings to the Right to Play programs.
This donation challenged Canadians to support the cause, raising over half a million dollars for the international humanitarian organization that uses sport for development.
In 2010, she donated her $10,000 medal bonus to the Vancouver inner city school program, ‘Take a Hike’, which uses adventure based learning to give youth at risk a better direction in life.
At the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, she earned two bronze medals, one in the time trial and one in the most demanding of cycling events, the road race.
For most of 1998, Hughes battled retrocalcaneal bursitis, a nagging ankle ailment, and temporarily retired.
She resumed her training in January 1999 and won gold at the Nationals that year, but struggled a month later at the Pan American Games.
Less than a week before the world championships, she was hit by a car while training but still competed and finished seventh in the time trial.
She went on to compete at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney and placed sixth. Hughes made Canadian and Olympic history at the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games in 2002.
Her bronze medal in the women’s 5,000 m speed skating event made her the first Canadian athlete, and only the fourth since 1896 (joining Eddie Eagan of the United States, Jacob Tullin Thams of Norway and Christa Rothenburger-Luding of East Germany), to win a medal in both the Olympic Summer Games and the Olympic Winter Games.
Hughes has seen even more success in speed skating, beginning with a bronze medal in the 5000 m at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
In World Championships from 2003 through 2009, she obtained a total of six medals: 1 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze.
At the 2006 Winter Olympics, she won silver in the team pursuit event and gold in the 5000 m, which inspired her to donate $10,000 to the charitable organization Right to Play.
She holds the Canadian record for the 10,000 m event with 14:19.73, which was, for a year, also the world record.
In 2007 she was made an officer of the Order of Canada and in 2010 she was Canada’s flagbearer in the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Order of Manitoba, holds honorary doctorates from various Canadian Universities and has been awarded the International Olympic Committee’s prestigious ‘Sport and the Community’ award for her commitment to promoting the values of sport and play around the world.
Clara also has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.