Six-Time Olympic Medalist | Mental Health Advocate
“Being a champion is not just about winning,” says six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes. Believing that actions off the track define us as much as those on it, Hughes inspires people toward success in all areas of their lives. Her candid, personal talks range from how she believes sports can change lives to her struggle with depression—fully embodying the idea that each of us can overcome challenges to become the champions we’re meant to be.
Hughes is the only Canadian to have won medals in both the Summer and the Winter Olympics: in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, she received two bronze medals in cycling; and over the course of three Winter Olympic Games, she received four medals—one gold, one silver, and two bronze—in speed skating. In addition, she served as the Canadian flag bearer for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games’ opening ceremony, and represented Canada with distinction at the London Summer Olympic Games in 2012, before retiring as an Olympian.
In 2014, Hughes yet again figured prominently in the eyes of Canadians as the national spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk, a campaign designed to end the stigma of mental health issues. Undertaking “Clara’s Big Ride,” Hughes completed a 110-day national bicycle tour through every province and territory in Canada. As part of the ride, she covered more than 11,000km and visited 105 communities along the way.
Hughes is also the author of the upcoming memoir, Open Heart, Open Mind, available in September, 2015.
Over the course of her distinguished career, Hughes has won countless awards and accolades. She was named Female Athlete of the Year by Speed Skating Canada; she received the International Olympic Committee’s Sport and Community Trophy; she was honoured with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame; she was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame; and she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Hughes sits on the International Board of Directors for Right To Play, a global organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. She holds honorary doctorates from the University of Manitoba, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Alberta.