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Akeem Haynes, Yellowknife's Olympic medallist, presented with 1st-ever key to city

Akeem Haynes may have won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the prize the track star took home Thursday night may be even more rare, as he was presented with the first-ever key to the city of Yellowknife.

Haynes grew up in Yellowknife before moving to Calgary for high school

Akeem Haynes is presented with Yellowknife's first-ever key to the city by mayor Mark Heyck. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

Akeem Haynes may have won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the prize the track star took home Thursday night may be even more rare, as he was presented with the key to the city of Yellowknife.

Haynes, who lived in the city from 1998 to 2004, received the key during a ceremony Thursday evening at Yellowknife's fieldhouse. His mother, Carlene Smith, and his two younger siblings still live in Yellowknife.

According to mayor Mark Heyck, who presented the key to Haynes, it's the first time the city has ever honoured someone with the key to the city.

"I'm still kind of in disbelief over it," Haynes said following the ceremony. "To get this from the city that I first came to from Jamaica, I can't really put it into words. It's truly a good feeling right now."
A young fan excitedly snaps a selfie with Haynes. Before the ceremony, Haynes took time to take photos with fans. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

Haynes, who lives in Calgary, was part of Canada's 4x100m relay team in Rio, winning the bronze medal alongside teammates Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney, and track superstar Andre De Grasse.

Despite Haynes learning about the honour on short notice — "I found out yesterday at about 3 p.m.," he said — he took the ceremony in stride, taking time to interact with young fans, take pictures, lead sprints and sign autographs.

"It means a lot to me," he said. "Because this city, I once called home.

"So to be able to get this, I'm still trying to process it myself. But it's truly, truly remarkable."

Haynes speaks with a young runner at the Yellowknife Fieldhouse prior to the ceremony. 'It means a lot to me,' he said of being honoured by Yellowknife. 'Because this city, I once called home.' (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

With files from Jimmy Thomson

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