VANCOUVER, Feb. 27 /CNW/ - Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic and Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette were named the joint recipients today of the Vancouver 2010 Terry Fox Award, named after the legendary young amputee runner who continues to touch the hearts of Canadians three decades after his ambitious cross-country run to find a cure for cancer.
The award, created in late 2009 by the Fox family and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), is in honour of athlete(s) who embody the same values that Fox did - who are the epitome of determination in motion, who pushed on no matter what the pain or obstacles in their path and inspired Canada and the world by displaying humility and selflessness in their treatment of others both on and off the field of play at the Olympic Winter Games.
"Few people have touched the soul of this great nation like Terry Fox did on his Marathon of Hope in 1980. In honour of his spirit we created this award with the Fox family - one which we're proud to present today to Petra and Joannie," said VANOC CEO John Furlong.
"Petra showed true grit when she picked herself up and stayed on to compete at Whistler Olympic Park in the women's sprint classic after sustaining an injury while warming up on the course. She performed in pain knowing her country and family were counting on her to win Slovenia's first medal at the Games - and she did with a bronze medal finish."
"Joannie also touched all of us this week with her determination to push on and compete here at Canada's Games even as she struggled with the painful sudden loss of her mother, Thérèse. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when she took to the ice on Tuesday after her mother's death. We all held our breath and willed her on as she gave a remarkable, dignified performance - one that helped her earn bronze. Her grief, determination and her grace have touched all of us."
"Both women are an inspiration to all of us and have provided us with unforgettable performances at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games," continued Furlong.
Both women have a long list of athletic achievements to their credit excelling in national and international competition. Majdic is the first Slovenian cross-country skier to win a medal at an Olympic Games. Rochette is the first Canadian female figure skater to win an Olympic medal since Elizabeth Manley in 1988 in Calgary.
Majdic, a 30-year-old from Slovenia and Rochette, a 24-year-old from Ile Dupas, Que., were selected by a small panel comprised of a member of the Fox family, Terry's brother Darrell, as well as CTV sportscaster Brian Williams, Olympic silver medallist in athletics and VANOC board member Charmaine Crooks, and Tricia Smith, Olympic silver medallist in rowing, vice president of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and an honorary Olympic mayor of the athletes' village in Vancouver.
"We are so pleased to see this award, named in honour of Terry, go towards Petra and Joannie, athletes who embody many of the same qualities he did as he pushed himself day after day towards his goal of finding a cure for cancer," said Betty Fox. "This year marks the 30th anniversary of my son's Marathon of Hope. Watching Petra and Joannie and their determination to carry on and triumph is something Canadians and the world will not forget. They represent the best of us and what we can accomplish - just like Terry."
The undulating awards are made out of nickel and wood and are inspired by the geography of Canada. They are also similar in style to the Vancouver 2010 medals presented at the Games.
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic emblem and the name of the award in both official languages of Canada and the Olympic Games are etched onto the surface of the trays in the shape of a water drop - symbolizing the moment when Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean to mark the beginning of his heroic journey in April 1980.
The reverse sides of the awards, revealing natural wood from the Western Yew, contain a graphic interpretation of Fox's Marathon of Hope route. Wood from the yew tree was specially chosen for the award because a chemical found in its bark is currently undergoing research for cancer fighting properties.
The award also includes a quote from the Canadian hero: I want to set an example that will never be forgotten/J'aimerais donner un exemple qui ne sera jamais oublié.
One of the awards highlights the route Fox ran from St. John's, NL, to Thunder Bay, ON, while the other features his planned route from Thunder Bay to Vancouver, BC.
About Terry Fox
On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox, of Port Coquitlam, BC, set out with little fanfare from St. John's, NL, on an ambitious - and at that time unheard of - cross-country run to help raise funds for cancer research. The image of him running with a prosthetic leg, the result of a bone cancer diagnosis and amputation at age 18, made a deep and emotional impact on Canadians as he ran on his Marathon of Hope and they opened their hearts and their wallets for his cause.
After running 143 days and 5,373 kilometres through Atlantic Canada, Quebec and much of Ontario, his journey was cut short outside of Thunder Bay, ON, on September 1, 1980 when cancer appeared in his lungs. He passed away at the age 22 on June 28, 1981 but his dream lives on with annual Terry Fox Runs throughout Canada and internationally. To date, close to $500 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in his name and his journey has inspired others to follow in his footsteps. For more information, visit www.terryfox.org.
VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit www.vancouver2010.com.
SOURCE VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES
For further information: For further information: Media Contact: VANOC Communications, Tel: (604) 403-1611, E-mail: email@example.com