Posted by Editor on 08/28/03
Hughes Leaves Cycling for Speedskating
Courtesy Speedskating Canada
Clara Hughes, the double Olympic bronze medallist in cycling at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games and bronze medallist in speed skating at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, announced today that she will be leaving the sport of cycling to return her full-time focus to speed skating.
Clara, a Winnipeg native who resides in Glen Sutton, Quebec, is a relative rookie on the national speed skating scene. She competed in the sport as a teenager, but cycling at a world-class level turned out to be a 10-year diversion. Just seven weeks after getting back into speed skating, she skated well enough to make the national team. At the 2003 World All Around Speed Skating Championships, Clara won the gold medal in the 5,000 metres; the first time Canada has ever won gold in the 5,000 at the World Championships and the first individual distance gold medal since 1976. Clara is also the first Canadian and fourth athlete ever to medal in both Summer and Winter Olympics.
"It was a difficult decision to leave cycling after so many wonderful years," says Clara Hughes "but I have pursued all my cycling dreams and I'm proud of all my accomplishments. I realize now I need to concentrate on speed skating full-time to reach my goal of winning gold for Canada at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games."
Jean Dupré, Director General of Speed Skating Canada says, "Speed Skating Canada is very excited about the recent announcement that Clara would skate again this season. Clara has been and will continue to be an important component of our Team. She brings a very positive attitude and work ethic to our sport which is a benefit to the other athletes and our entire program. She is an excellent role model for our athletes and the perfect example of what determination and perseverance mean. I am sure that I am not just speaking for myself when I say that we are happy to have her back."
Her highly successful cycling career spans a decade and earned her numerous wins, Pan American and Commonwealth Games medals, silver at the World Cycling Championships and eighteen national championship titles. Clara finishes her cycling career on a high note winning three medals at the recent Pan American Games and was chosen to carry the Canadian flag in the closing ceremonies.
"We will miss Clara for sure!" says Pierre Hutsebaut, Director General, Canadian Cycling Association. "Clara had a tremendous impact on women's cycling in Canada. She always displayed the best attitude that you can expect from a top elite athlete: dedication, commitment, respect of others, words of encouragement for the upcoming riders and a great smile! All over the world she was a great ambassador for Canadian cycling and she was respected and loved everywhere in the international cycling community. Because of her, many young women decided to take cycling as their sport and she helped to establish Canada as a recognized force in women's cycling."
Elliott Kerr, President Landmark Sport Group, the marketing agency that represents Clara says, " We are very supportive of Clara's decision to return full-time to speed skating. Her pursuit of excellence has taken her to the top of her field in both cycling and speed skating and she will continue to represent Canada with determination, dignity and integrity."
Clara will now return to Calgary to resume her speed skating training for the up coming season.
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