March 24, 2015
Canada's Greatest Athlete? It's Not A Hockey Player.
With the recent retirement of NBA basketball star Steve Nash, a few debates have broken out about who is Canada's greatest athlete.
Nash is a serious contender. He's an 8 time NBA all star and back to back NBA MVP. For a stretch a Canadian was the best basketball player in the world, helping to pave the way for the coming swarm of Canadian talent.
Is that enough to unseed the top seed Wayne Gretzky? This is Canada after all, and how can our top athlete not be a hockey player? If not Gretzky, then how about Bobby Orr? Gordie Howe? Mario Lemieux?
Other names that have come up in recent days including former heavyweight champion of the world Lennox Lewis, world's fastest man Donovan Bailey, World Cup/Olympic champion Nancy Greene, soccer superstar Christine Sinclair, fighter Georges St. Pierre, multiple sport star Lionel Conacher and triathlete Simon Whitfield. Oh, and for comedic content, Iron Mike Sharpe, the WWE wrestler who professed himself to be Canada's greatest athlete.
Sharpe aside, all are deserving of mention. But Canada's greatest athlete is not among them. And that is because Canada's greatest athlete might not even be considered an athlete.
Terry Fox was a basketball player and distance runner before being diagnosed with cancer. His leg was amputated, but not his heart. In order to raise money and awareness for cancer research, he embarked on his Marathon of Hope in 1980, attempting to run across Canada on his artificial leg. Often he would run the equivalent of a marathon or more several days in a row, all on the archaic, unforgiving prosthetic.
Cancer returned, and he had to end his Marathon of Hope short, but his legacy can never be matched. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised by him and in his memory. He is the face of cancer and disability, pushing both causes years forward by himself. His perseverance, commitment and compassion are trademarks that all Canadians are held to.
Terry Fox, perhaps the most unconventional hero, is, in my opinion, Canada's greatest Canadian. He should be Canada's greatest athlete, too.