Canadian Swimming Hero Nancy Garapick inducted in the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

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Toronto, ON – Canadian Swimming Hero Nancy Garapick was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame yesterday. Garapick was amongst five athletes and two builders representing the sports of swimming, boxing, track and field, short-track speed skating, hockey, baseball and figure-skating who showcased the country’s ever-expanding contribution to world sporting excellence.

Former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, the 4X100 relay team that shocked everyone but themselves in upsetting the Americans on their home turf at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, swimming wunderkind Nancy Garapick, speed-skating’s legendary Marc Gagnon and hockey’s Steve Yzerman will took their places as Athletes.

Figure-skating’s David Dore and baseball’s Pat Gillick joined them on the podium for induction as Builders.

Nancy Garapick, coached by Nigel Kemp, was a blonde, bubbling unknown 14-year-old when she broke the world 200 backstroke record in 1975. A few months later at the World Aquatic Games in Cali, Colombia, she won bronze in the 100 backstroke. Competing against East Germany’s Birgit Treiber, who had wrestled back the 200 world mark, Garapick broke the record again – but finished second to Treiber. A year later, competing in the Olympic Games in Montreal, she won bronze medals in the two backstroke events. She was a member of the Canadian national team from 1974-1983.

Lewis’ path to the world boxing championship was long and arduous. He won gold at the world junior championship in 1983 and finished fifth in the Summer Olympics the following year. Four years later in Seoul, South Korea, Lewis knocked out Riddick Bowe for gold in the super heavyweight division to bring Canada Olympic gold. As a professional, he collected the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles, kayoed Canada’s Donovan “Razor” Ruddick to capture the World Boxing Council title. After losing the title to Oliver McCall, he was back to win it twice more against Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield, and scored an eighth-round knockout over Mike Tyson in defending it. His record at retirement in 2004: 41 wins including 32 knockouts, two losses and one draw.

The 4×100 relay team of Donovan Bailey, Bruny Surin, Glenroy Gilbert and Robert Esmie (who stood in for Carlton Chambers, who ran the first and second round) shocked everyone but themselves at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, beating the favoured Americans on their home turf. Apparently the world forgot that the Canadian team had been reigning world champions and held the Commonwealth title as they came to Atlanta. The team was inducted to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.

Marc Gagnon’s short-track speed skating medals would fill a hall of his own. From 1993’s world championships through three Olympic Games he set the standard for Canadian competitors while collecting gold, silver and bronze in world competitions. In 2002 in the Salt Lake Olympics he won gold in the 500 and as a member of the relay team and bronze at 1500. His totals log five Olympic medals (three gold and two bronze) is the most by a Canadian male athlete in Winter Olympic history and the second-most in Canadian sports. His career excellence and the manner in which he won recognition for his sport have made him a short-track Canadian legend. In 2000 Chicoutimi’s Journal Le Quotidien declared him “athlete of the century”.

Steve Yzerman is a career Detroit Red Wings player. Their first pick and fourth overall in the 1983 NHL draft, he became their youngest captain in the 1986-87season and a vital part of their offence until his retirement in 2006, and moved into the front office where he is now vice-president as well as a key figure in Hockey Canada. He left the playing ranks standing sixth in all-time NHL scoring and eighth in regular-season goals. His Team Canada record is just as impressive: on the bronze-medal 1983 world junior team, three world tournaments, the 1996 World Cup team and two Olympic teams. As a Red Wing he stands second to Gordie Howe in every major offensive category except assists, where his 1,063 tops Howe’s 1,020.

Recognition in the builder category goes to two men whose mark on their sports is beyond question.

In almost 17 years as Canadian Figure-Skating Association president/director, David Dore has literally changed the face of his sport. He founded the National Team program, developed a successful marketing and that attracted major sponsors and television contracts and created an Athletic Trust, which has funded over 5,000 skaters to a total of $15 million over the past 20 years. Under Dore’s leadership Skate Canada’s budget has grown from $285,000 in 1980 to the present $17 million and annual revenues have grown by 400 per cent.

In Toronto, baseball fans know Pat Gillick as the general-manager who built their beloved Blue Jays from also-rans to five-time division winners and two-time World Series champions. A lifetime baseball man, he climbed through the ranks from Houston’s director of scouting to his stay in Toronto and general-manager in Baltimore, Seattle and, currently, Philadelphia. A member of Canada’s Baseball Hall of Fame, he was the winner of major league baseball’s executive of the year award in 2001.

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