Canadian Millennials have been blessed with the opportunity to watch some incredible athletic eye-candy.
Across all sports, over the last 3½ decades, we’ve seen some incredible home-grown talent grace our tracks, our fields, our rinks, our courts, and our television screens.
With the PanAm Games coming to Toronto in only a few months, we thought we’d make a list of our generation’s most impressive sports stars (in no particular order) – and by our generation, we mean the ones we literally grew up watching.
And it turns out, Canada’s got game…
The best golfer this country has ever produced. He’s the only Canadian to ever win the Masters (2003) and he spent over one hundred weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking between 2001 and 2005.
Milos Raonic looks like he could make some serious moves, but how this guy doesn’t get more praise is beyond us. He rankstenth all time for the most men’s ATP titles in Open Era history with eighty seven (yes, 87) men’s doubles titles across 9 different partners. His accolades include a Gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics, four ATP World Tour Finals, and eight Grand Slam titles.
At 16 years old he became the youngest ever Canadian Formula Ford Champion. He also holds the record as the youngest winner of the single-seater Can-Am series and set a record winning the Indy Lights Championship nine times.
Catriona Le May Doan
Le May Doan won the Olympic 500m Gold Medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics, and then again in 2002, giving her the appropriate nickname, “the fastest woman on ice”. Oh, and no other woman has set eight consecutive World Records in one distance.
Ya, he was born in England but for whom did he win Olympic Gold in 1988? That’s right: Canada. Considered one of the best boxers of all time, he retired in 2004 after beating Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and Vitali Klitschko to seal his title as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
After winning the gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games, he held the world record for the 100m race and was the first Canadian to break the 10-second barrier, during which he was noted for his top speed of 27.07 mph, the fastest running speed ever recorded at the time. not to mention he embarrassed Michael Johnson in a 150m to decide the fastest man on earth.
Adam Van Koeverden
He is a two-time world champion – once in the K-1 500m and once in the K-1 1000m – and has won eight world championship medals on top of his four Olympic medals; one gold, two silvers, and a bronze. He is also the current (“unofficial”) world record holder for the K-1 500m.
Villeneuve is only the third driver in history to win the CART Championship, the Indianapolis 500, and the Formula One World Championship, and to date, no other Canadian has won the Indianapolis 500 or the F1 Drivers’ title.
Tied with Cindy Klassen as the Canadian with the most Olympic medals (six in total), Hughes is one of only five people ever to have podium finishes in the Winter and Summer games, and is the only person to have ever won multiple medals in both; for cycling and for speed skating.
The only Canadian Olympian to win five medals in a single Olympic games and the first female speed skater to win five medals in a single games at the 2006 Winter Olympics. She holds the world record for two distances (the 1500m and the 3000m) and is also the leader of the Adelskalender, which is the current overall world ranking for speed skating.
Walker was the first Canadian to ever win the MVP award in Major League Baseball, earning the title in his 1997 season during which he hit .366 with 49 home runs, 130 RBI and 33 stolen bases (if you don’t know baseball, trust us, that’s an incredible line). He became and remains the only player to have at least 25 stolen bases and a slugging percentage of more than .700 in a season.
If only there was no Wayne…Lemieux is second all-time for 100-point seasons with ten, and has hit just about every Penguins record in the books, including goals, points, and assists in a single season. He is one of only two NHL players to score over ten short-handed goals in more than one season, the only NHL player with three 8-point games, and he was involved in 57.3% of his team’s goals in 1988-1989 (the highest percentage in NHL history).
This country’s most decorated triathlete, Whitfield won 10 consecutive Canadian Triathlon Championship titles and showed off his talents to the world when he won the Gold Medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, finishing in 1:48:24.02 – it was the fastest Olympic triathlon ever recorded at the time, and stayed the fastest until 2012.
Literally changing the game for women’s soccer in Canada…and everywhere else, really. Soccer Player of the Year seven times, she led her team to a bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012. And a gold at the 2015 PanAm Games…?
JEE. ESS. PEE! Named Canadian Athlete of the Year by Rogers Sportsnet in 2008, 2009, and 2010, he has been the Welterweight Champion of the UFC three times, winning the title twice in 2006 and 2008, and winning an Interim title in 2007. Fight Matrix – an independent comprehensive, mixed martial arts ranking system – lists him as the top MMA Welterweight of all time and the number one most accomplished MMA fighter in history. Whatever. We could take him.
This guy almost single-handedly put Canadian basketball on the map. He was an eight-time all-star, a two-time recipient of league MVP, and a five-time league leader in assists. He has also had four seasons in which he shot 50% from the field, 40% from 3-point land, and 90% from the foul line (it’s called the 180)…two more seasons than any other player in history.
Duh. Wayne Gretzky still holds/shares 61 records listed in the League’s Official Guide and Record Book: 40 for the regular season, 15 for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and six for the All-Star Game. There isn’t a sane person in the world that doesn’t consider him the best hockey player of all time and frankly, you couldn’t really ask for a better sports ambassador for your country.