jane thornton

Photo courtesy of AthletesCAN.

Jane Thornton has been awarded the 2015 AthletesCAN Social Responsibility Award. 

The retired athlete, and current physician, was awarded the prize on Saturday night at a ceremony in Toronto during the AthletesCAN Forum Excellence Celebration.

Thornton, who became involved with Right to Play as an Athlete Ambassador in 2007, now advocates, in her current position as a resident doctor, for greater understanding of the role that physical activity has in preventing and treating chronic disease.

The former world champion hopes that receiving this award will inspire other athletes to give back to society.

“One does not need an Olympic gold medal to inspire and give back,” explained Thornton a couple of days before receiving her award.  “The same dedication and commitment that was used to excel in sport simply has to be redirected towards something that makes the world a better place.”

Currently, Thornton is developing a portal on the World Rowing Federation’s (FISA) website titled the Athlete Zone. One of the main goals of the site is to profile international athletes who are making a difference in the lives of others. As well it will create a global network for rowers who can then come together on various projects, such as mentoring athletes in developing nations.

The 2008 Olympian is also volunteering her time to help develop Canadian health policy issues.  And in what time is left, Thornton is giving back to rowing through sport medicine initiatives that include teaching and research.

The Athlete Social Responsibility Award was created in 2009 to recognize the contributions of athlete leaders in the community.  The award is presented annually to a national team athlete (either current or retired) who has made a significant contribution to society through sport and/or through volunteer initiatives.

Past recipients of the award include Kyle Shewfelt (Gymnastics), Jennifer Heil (freestyle skiing), Clara Hughes (speekskating, cycling) and fellow rower, Adam Kreek.