On Friday November 22, his Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, presided over an Order of Canada investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa where he bestowed the honour on 20 Members, 17 Officers and 1 Companion.
Les McDonald, the man responsible for getting the sport of triathlon into the Olympic Summer Games, was one of those to receive the Order of Canada honour. McDonald, was the inaugural president of Triathlon Canada (1984-1996), and the International Triathlon Union (1989-2008).
“When Simon Whitfield crossed the finish line in Sydney to win the first Olympic gold medal awarded in men’s triathlon, it was a day of sweet validation,” said Luc Landriault, president, Triathlon Canada. “Not only did a Canadian make history by winning the first event, but Les’ baby – the sport of triathlon – was on the Olympic stage following many tireless years of building and guiding its development around the world. This is a special day for Les, and it is extremely well deserved.”
Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is the centre piece of Canada’s honours system and recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. The Order recognizes people in all sectors of Canadian society. Their contributions are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country. Since its creation, more than 6 000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order.
The driving force behind the introduction of triathlon into the 2000 Olympic Summer Games lineup, which was announced in 1994 at the IOC Congress in Paris, France, it was thanks to McDonald’s extraordinary vision that triathlon has evolved into one of Canada’s quickest growing sports.
Provincial memberships for adults and juniors have tripled since 1998. Participation may be most notable at the grassroots level through the addition of the Kids of Steel program nearly 10 years ago, which is a program designed to offer kids and young adults across Canada the opportunity to experience the sport in a positive environment.
“On behalf of everyone in the triathlon community we owe a great deal to relentless work ethic of Les McDonald who paved the way for our sport,” said Landriault, who added that McDonald also received the Olympic Order in 2010. “We look forward to building on his legacy and push for triathlon’s continued growth across the country.”
“Without Les McDonald there would not have been triathlon at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney,” said Simon Whitfied on Facebook. “Today, Les was honoured with the Order of Canada. Congratulations, Les! Well deserved.”