Opening day at Spruce Meadows was a fitting time and venue for the Canadian Sports Heroes Collection to unveil their latest portrait of a real Canadian sports hero Ian Millar.
Millar, from Perth, Ont., is an equestrian icon and joins a select group of Canadian athletes who have changed the face of sport in Canada. Millar is the 15th member of this stellar group of portraits.
(See Millar's portrait on my Twitter account at @Deanna_Phelan)
The man who did painted Millar's portrait is Gordon Milne. He spoke of getting to know Millar and trying to get a feeling of who Ian is as a person. He said Millar was a man who "loves his family, loves the day to day business, believes in excellence and expects excellence from others. He is comfortable in a cowboy hat, even more than in his red jacket.
"That's what I wanted to paint. Thank you, Ian. It was a thrill to meet you and an honour to paint your portrait."
Tewksbury, an Olympic gold medallist in swimming and Canada's chef de mission at the recent London Games, said: "Ian Millar is Canada's greatest Olympian ever."
Millar set a record for Olympic team participation when he was named to Canada's show jumping team for London, marking his 10th consecutive Olympics.
Now, on to the Spruce Meadows Masters, one of the world's largest and most recognized tournaments, starting this week in Calgary.
Given that the Olympics were a month ago, many of the countries have not sent their Olympic team riders. New names, new faces and new horses will make up the teams representing the nine countries competing in the BMO Nations Cup on Saturday (Bold, 4 p.m. ET, CBCSports.ca, CBC local, 8 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. AT).
Anchoring the final day of the tournament on Sunday will be the $1-million CN International Grand Prix (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 3 p.m. ET).
Top international horses and riders will be jumping for top prize money, World Cup points and a chance to make history at Spruce Meadows.
Here is a list of the competitors:
Francois Mathy Jr.
Roger Yves Bost