Monday, October 29, 2007 - LatestNews
Beckie Scott: A True Hall of Fame Canadian

- By: CBC Sports

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Canada's Sports Hall of Fame has recently welcomed eight new honoured members. All are worthy, of that there is no doubt. Included in the group are professional hockey, baseball and football players, who at one time were judged to be the most valuable performers in their leagues.

There is also the captain of an Olympic hockey team who led her country to a gold medal as well as a Nigerian refugee who chose Canada late in his wrestling career to fashion glory for his adopted homeland.

Behind the scenes, builders of Canadian sport are also represented in the new group gaining entrance to "The Hall" - they too are more than deserving of such exalted status. The very presence of these accomplished stars should help to breathe life into Canada's sporting shrine.

But in all the gushing over the brilliant athletic achievements of Mike Bossy, Larry Walker, Doug Flutie, Cassie Campbell and Daniel Igali, let's not forget to celebrate the significance of a triumph of the spirit which marked this year's induction ceremony at Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. If the most important thing that an elite athlete can possess is strength of character, then Vermilion, Alberta's Beckie Scott may be the greatest of them all.

Scott blazed a trail out of a small community in Canada's heartland to make a huge impression on the Nordic world. Few fans of cross-country skiing will ever forget the exploits of this great sprinter who overcame countless obstacles with dedication and grace. Beckie Scott took on the cheaters and won much more than Olympic gold and silver medals along the way. She captured hearts and forged a respect for all athletes who strive to compete clean on the world stage.

Cross-country trailblazer

A graduate of the Jack Rabbit program in her hometown of Vermilion, Scott joined the national team in 1994 and enjoyed a remarkable career including appearances at three Olympic Games. In Nagano, Japan, in 1998 her top placing was 45th, but four years later at Soldier Hollow, Utah, she became a pioneer. It was there that Scott won a bronze medal in the pursuit race thus becoming the first Canadian, and indeed, the first North American woman to stand on the Olympic podium in cross-country skiing.

After it was found that the women who placed ahead of her in that race were guilty of doping violations, Beckie Scott was awarded the gold medal on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery a full two years after the race was complete. It was sweet vindication for an athlete who had been so patient and so resolute in her commitment to drug-free sport. The awarding of the gold medal to Scott was celebrated by the entire Nordic world as symbolic of a new era in cross-country skiing - one, which promised a level playing field for all.

Scott combined with fellow Albertan Sara Renner to win a silver medal in the team sprint at her final Olympics in Torino, Italy, in February of 2006. In all, she captured 15 World Cup medals and re-wrote the Canadian cross-country skiing record books. Indeed, Beckie Scott had established herself as one of the world's best all-around cross country skiers.

Still, it is her life beyond the ski trails that will become Scott's legacy. A tireless worker for charitable endeavours has led her to become a UNICEF Ambassador, a winner of the Spirit of Sport Story of the Year Award at the Canadian Sport Awards in 2004, and the choice of her peers as a member of the IOC Athlete's Commission. Throughout her remarkable journey in sport Beckie Scott has always been regarded as a leader in every sense of the word.

As she drove to the finish line in front of a jubilant crowd at Soldier Hollow on that brilliant mid-winter day in 2002, Beckie Scott must have sensed she was headed for a place in the history books. By winning that medal she defined the word trailblazer. And there was so much more to her story. Beckie Scott won because of the strength of her body, it's true. She became legendary because of the strength of her convictions and her belief in fair play above all.

It has been an honour to trace her exploits on ski trails around the world and to see her rise to the top of the Olympic podium. But it is even more satisfying to witness her recognition by all Canadians for what she truly is. Beckie Scott is a champion who represents all that is good and honourable about sport. That means she defines what it means to be in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

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