Hughes to carry flag for largest Canadian team

Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:56pm EST
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Speed skater Clara Hughes, the only Canadian to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Games, has been selected to carry her country's flag into the opening ceremony for next month's 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

The announcement highlighted the unveiling of the largest ever Canadian Winter Games team on Friday, with the 206 athletes set an ambitious target of putting the host nation on top of the medals table.

A five-time Olympian with five medals, Hughes will defend the 5,000 meters title she won at the Turin Games, where she also took a silver in the team pursuit.

The 37-year-old Winnipeg native was also a bronze medalist in the 5,000m at the 2002 at Salt Lake City Olympics and won bronze medals in cycling's road race and time trial at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games.

Only four athletes have both Summer and Winter Olympic medals in their trophy cases.

Hughes, who speaks both of Canada's official languages English and French, is equally admired for her humanitarian work as her athletic accomplishments, donating $10,000 to the Right to Play organization after her gold medal victory in Turin.


"To all of Canada this is our time," a beaming Hughes told a large crowd of media following the official announcement made at City Hall in Richmond, B.C., not far from the speed skating oval where she will try to add to her medal total.   Continued...

<p>Speedskater Clara Hughes stands in front of a Canadian flag after being named the flag bearer for the 2010 Winter Olympic opening ceremony at a news conference in Richmond, British Columbia January 29, 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games begin February 12. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>