Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette and Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic, both Olympic bronze medallists, have been named the joint recipients of the Vancouver 2010 Terry Fox Award.
The award, created by the Fox family and Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, is in honour of the athletes(s) who best exemplify the type of courageous and selfless qualities that Fox did during his cross-country run for cancer.
“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, in a press release Saturday
Rochette touched a nation when the 24-year-old Ile Dupas, Que. native skated to bronze in the ladies’ event just four days after the sudden passing of her mother.
Theresa Rochette, 55, died of a heart attack shortly after arriving in Vancouver to watch her daughter compete in the Games.
With the weight of a country and Olympic community behind her, the six-time national champion became the first Canadian female figure skater to reach the podium since Elizabeth Manley claimed silver at the 1988 Calgary Games.
“I feel proud and the result didn’t matter but I’m happy to be on the podium,” Rochette told Quebec Media, Inc. after the free skate. “This was a lifetime project with my mom and we achieved that.”
“Joannie 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,” Furlong said.
“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.”
Majdic crashed during training for the cross-country individual sprint classic, falling off the course and into rocks, suffering a collapsed lung and four broken ribs.
Determined to compete in the final and unaware to the extent of her injuries, the 30-year-old skier fought through unbearable pain to win bronze, her country’s first medal of the Games.
“I could feel the injury every time I moved and it still hurt really badly,” she told the Agence France-Presse. “It might have been a bronze, but for me this medal is gold with little diamonds.”
“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,” Furlong said.
“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.”
“Both women are an inspiration to all of us and have provided us with unforgettable performances at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games,” he said.
The committee responsible for choosing the recipients included Fox’s brother Darrell, sportscaster Brian Williams, Olympian and VANOC board member Charmaine Crooks and former rower Tricia Smith.