Canada's Olympians, Paralympians celebrated in nation's capital
Athletes presented with rings, and bask in more cheers at Rideau Hall
Bright, brilliant sunshine cascaded down on Rideau Hall Wednesday morning as a wave of red and white made its way up the driveway. It was time for Canada's Olympians and Paralympians to be officially celebrated for their achievements at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.
Students from local schools lined the driveway, waving flags and chanting "Go Canada Go!" as the athletes made their way to the front steps of Rideau Hall.
Waiting there were a number of dignitaries and politicians, including Governor General Julie Payette, as well as the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kirsty Duncan. Both talked about how inspirational the athletes' performances were during their competitions in South Korea.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also on hand to address the athletes.
This year's Games were historic for Canada — the country's athletes earned a record-breaking number of medals for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The largest-ever Canadian Olympic delegation of 225 athletes won 29 medals. It was also the largest-ever Canadian Paralympic delegation, with 55 athletes. Paralympians won a record 28 medals for Canada.
As part of the celebration at Rideau Hall, the athletes were presented with rings.
Inside the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill where Canada’s Prime Minister <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinTrudeau?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JustinTrudeau</a> takes a photo with Canada’s Olympians and Paralympians in Ottawa. <a href="https://t.co/jsxk9IMwzG">pic.twitter.com/jsxk9IMwzG</a>—@Devin_Heroux
Morrisons still enjoying the journey
Denny Morrison has competed in four Olympics and had taken part in post-Games celebrations before, but had never seen something as grand as Wednesday's event in Ottawa.
"It's cool they've made such a big deal of it this year. For a lot of athletes, that ring means being part of something bigger than their own Olympic journey," Morrison said. "It's being part of the Olympic family."
The four-time Olympic medallist was beside his wife, Josie Morrison, who also competed in speed skating in Pyeongchang. It was her first Games.
The Morrisons originally had a family trip planned to Croatia, which would have taken them away from the celebration at Rideau Hall — but they had to be at the event.
"Jose and I have been trying to enjoy every step of this journey together," Denny said. "We realize this is a special thing."
Morrison also talked about how important it was to be there to meet many of the young students, something he said is vitally important to helping young Canadians to dream big.
"It's what this is all about now," he said. "We all go through setbacks in life and our career. I want to show Canadians we can be gritty and push through anything."
Wright still soaking up Paralympic experience
Saskatchewan's Marie Wright became one of the faces for Canada's Paralympic team in Pyeongchang. The wheelchair curler is known for her positive attitude and infectious smile. But it hasn't always been easy for her.
Thirty years ago, Wright was in a horrific car accident on a rural road, leaving her a paraplegic. To make matters worse, her husband left her two years after the accident with four young daughters.
But Wright never stopped. She credits her daughters for keeping her moving forward when she wanted to quit. And there she was in Pyeongchang, competing for Canada and winning a bronze medal. She was also in Ottawa Wednesday to accept her ring, show off her bronze medal and meet young students.
"I'm so excited to be here. It's just awesome," she said, smiling. "A lot of them have been coming up to me and congratulating me."
The students were not the only ones congratulating Wright. She said a number of Olympians and Paralympians came up to her and thanked her for her courage, calling Wright an inspiration.
"It's incredible. I didn't realize there would be this much hype, even after the Games. I'm amazed at it all," she said.
Wright has been speaking at schools, fundraisers and events all across Saskatchewan since she's been home. She said she plans on working hard over the next four years to get back to the Paralympics for Canada.
"My daughters said I have to get back there," she said. "So I'll do everything I can to make sure that happens."