June 23, 2013 Ottawa, ON (ISN)- Friday, the fields of Rideau Hall rang with laughter and excitement as thousands of Ottawa-area children and youth experienced the power of sport during the second annual Olympic Day fair being held as part of Canada’s official week of celebrations honouring International Olympic Day which occurs annually on June 23.
The Canadian Olympic Committee led-initiative was held in partnership with the 30th annual Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)’s Teddy Bears’ Picnic, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Kidsport and the Sport Information Resource Centre, and included 15 sport-specific stations in which children and parents alike could participate and enjoy.
“Our incredible athletes live the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect every single day, making them the ideal role models for Canada’s youth,” said Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut. “Olympic Day celebrations are the perfect opportunity to share their example with Canadians. On behalf of the Canadian Olympic family, congratulations to organizers, volunteers and all the energetic participants of the Olympic Day festivities around the country, and here in our nation’s capital.”
“As many Paralympic athletes have journeyed through the health care system, it was fitting to have Paralympic athletes and sports featured at the CHEO Teddy Bears’ Picnic today and I’d like to thank the COC, CHEO and the Governor General for including us in this amazing event,” said Gaétan Tardif, President, Canadian Paralympic Committee. “Our wish is that children of all abilities have the opportunity to experience the many benefits of sport and perhaps one day, to dream of representing our country and winning medals just like the Team Canada athletes they met today.”
“My life is richer and more fulfilled because I got involved in sport; not just because of the health and fitness aspects, but because of the friends I made, the skills I gained and the challenges I overcame,” said Steve Podborski, two-time Olympian, Lake Placid 1980 Bronze medallist and Canadian Olympic Team Chef de Mission for Sochi 2014. “At today’s event in Ottawa, I hope that children and parents alike absorbed, not only how much potential, but how powerful sport is for the good of the world.”
“Today, I met kids in whom sports values seem to resonate, and it’s truly awesome,” added Alexandre Bilodeau, Vancouver 2010 Gold medallist and the first Canadian to win a Gold medal on home soil. “Days like this one are very inspiring for me – spending time and chatting with the kids, learning about what turns their crank about the Olympics. I always leave these events with an extra dose of motivation and their energy is contagious. I’ve learned a tremendous amount through sport, and I hope to continue to have opportunities like this one to share the values and life-lessons that I have drawn from sport.”
“It is always so wonderful to be surrounded by so many excited children and promising young athletes,” said two-time Olympian, Anabelle Langlois. “My hope is that we were able to kindle some curiosity and passion in the minds of the countless young boys and girls that we met today.”
“It was a great honour to participate in Olympic Day today and to share with so many people my experiences of racing with guide runner Josh Karanja at the Paralympic Games as a blind athlete,” said Jason Dunkerley, London 2012 Silver medallist in the 5000 metres and Bronze medallist in the 1500 metres in para-athletics. “As I prepare for the Boiling Point Track Classic here in Ottawa next month, I will carry with me the motivation and energy from the huge crowd gathered here today. I’m inspired to do all I can to motivate more Canadians to be active in sport.”
The following organizations helped make the International Olympic Day fair a success: the Canadian Paralympic Committee; Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club; Ottawa City Wide Sports; KidSport; Biathlon Canada; Chelsea Nordique; Rock Solid Production; Cycling Canada; Ottawa Fencing; University of Ottawa Fencing Club; Nepean Night Hawks; Rugby Canada; Triathlon Canada, West Ottawa Soccer; Phoenix Taekwondo Martial Arts Academy and Bytown Storm.
International Olympic Day is celebrated annually and world-wide on or around June 23 in commemoration and celebration of the founding of the modern Olympic Games and as a way to create awareness of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic values. Today’s event in Ottawa is the second of three official celebrations marking 2013 International Olympic Day in Canada. The first celebration occurred at the Richmond Olympic Oval in BC on June 17th; the third will occur in Toronto, ON when Beijing 2008 Silver medallist, Jason Burnett will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays’ home game.