Canada’s Olympian Family to visit ORC in Rio
4 | 7 | 2016
The Olympians Reunion Centre by EY is set to host one of Canada’s most prolific Olympic families in Rio this August. Lee and Thelma Wright, a husband and wife Olympian duo from Canada, will join hundreds of other Olympians from around the world at the ORC to reconnect with their extended Olympic family and celebrate the sporting action at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
The Olympic Games run in the blood of the Wright family. Lee Wright represented Canada in field hockey at Tokyo 1964 and Montreal 1976, and Thelma ran the 1,500m at both the Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. Lee’s father Harold Wright was also an Olympian, competing as a sprinter at the 1932 Games in Los Angeles before going on to become President of the Canadian Olympic Committee (1968-1976) and hosting the Olympic Games Montreal 1976. And Thelma and Lee’s two sons, Anthony and Philip Wright, continued the rich family tradition as members of the Canadian Olympic men’s field hockey team; Anthony playing, and Philip as a reserve at Beijing 2008.
Lee and Thelma Wright will bring their remarkable family history with them when they visit the Olympian Reunions Centre in Rio during the Games. The couple, who has previously attended ORCs at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Beijing and London, believes it is the ideal place to share stories and experiences from their days as competitors while also having a chance to learn what other Olympians have done with their lives outside sport.
“The ORC is a perfect way to connect with other Olympians, promote the Olympic Movement worldwide, get to know our extended family, and simply make sure all Olympians feel welcome and know they are part of something bigger”, said Thelma Wright.
“Each time we have visited, we have been lucky enough to meet up with past athletes we knew, or to see and meet some amazing Olympic champions and other greats”, she added. “It also helps to show us all how different our backgrounds can be, our sports can be, our lives can be, and that all shapes, sizes and ages can be Olympians. If we can connect worldwide we can continue to encourage others to dare to dream the Olympic dream.”
Since competing, Thelma has gone on to lead a full career as a teacher and coach, passing on her expertise to the next generation of Canadians. She is also an elected member of the IAAF, representing Athletics Canada and Pan American countries on the IAAF Cross Country Committee and as a Technical Delegate. While she is a fiercely proud Olympian and esteemed member of the Canadian sporting community, she describes her memories of competing as an Olympic athlete as bittersweet:
“My first experience was in Munich as a 20-year-old. The day I ran was the night [Palestinian terrorists] came in and took hostage of the Israeli athletes. I will never forget waking up after being so disappointed to not make the final, only to hear the horrific news that other athletes had lost their lives.”
“In Montreal I was unfortunate to have broken my toe in training leading up to the Games. I was down and out and ready to retire, feeling sorry for myself, and stood on the starting line almost giving up; but I gave it my best, running with a hole cut in my shoe for the swollen toe.”
“It was a good lesson albeit hard. Time and circumstance sometimes don’t allow everyone to achieve their dreams. I was fortunate to be there representing my country.”
Lee Wright had the distinction of being the youngest member of the 1964 Canadian men’s hockey team and the oldest when they returned to the Games in 1976. He describes his Olympic debut in Tokyo at the age of 20 as a dream come true and includes his time as a spectator at the 1968 Games in Mexico City among his most special Olympic memories.
“Seeing Bob Beamon massively surpass the world record in the long jump and leave the other competitors in awe [in Mexico City], watching Dick Fosbury flop over the bar and change high jumping for ever, and of course seeing Lee Evans in the 400m, and Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 200m, use the Olympics to remind the world of racial inequality”, Lee Wright reminisced.
Of their achievements, Thelma and Lee are perhaps most proud they have been able to pass on the Olympic values to all four of their children, who they describe as immensely talented athletes in their own right and who, as adults, have chosen to work for the betterment of others and their communities.
Thelma says there is no doubt her sons Anthony and Philip’s involvement in the Canadian Olympic Team in particular has made a difference to how they continue to live their lives as it has allowed them to become role models to others. But she cautions that being an Olympian on its own is not enough to secure this status.
“I don’t believe that athletes should simply put themselves on a pedestal because they are Olympians. They should strive to be the best they can be in all facets of their lives, helping others to achieve, supporting others in their struggles, working hard to make a difference in society, and simply being good, honest, hard-working global citizens. It is what Olympians do with the rest of their life that should also define them.”
As the Wrights look forward to Rio and the prospect of witnessing another chapter in the history of the Olympic Games, they are proud that their Olympic legacy will live on through their family.
The Olympians Reunion Centre by EY is a destination hub for Olympians of all ages to gather in the heart of the Olympic action in Rio. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this exclusive venue. Pre-register now at http://olympians.org/rio-2016/ and enjoy the Olympic Games Rio 2016 in comfort and style.