Olympics

Lueders, Wotherspoon headed to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

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The Canadian Press
4/19/2012 4:30:21 PM
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CALGARY -- Pierre Lueders had a satisfying conversation with German bobsled rival Christoph Langen after both men retired from the sport to coach.

Langen told him the Germans couldn't figure out how Lueders was beating them when they had so much to work with and the Canadians so little at the time.

"We certainly stuck our nose in where it didn't belong and it was a lot of fun doing it," Lueders said Thursday with some glee.

The Olympic bobsled champion drove Canada into the world's elite in the sport both literally and figuratively with his fierce competitive streak and not a little stubbornness.

Lueders joins eight others who will be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame later his year.

Hockey player Scott Niedermayer, speedskater Jeremy Wotherspoon, soccer player Charmaine Hooper, rower Derek Porter and the figure skating pair of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier are the athletes joining Lueders in the class of 2012.

The late Daryl (Doc) Seaman, an owner of the Calgary Flames, and Marion Lay, an athlete-turned-advocate, join them as builders.

Their induction ceremony will be Oct. 18 at the Sports Hall of Fame, which opened the doors to its new building at Canada Olympic Park on July 1, 2011.

The Sports Hall Of Fame celebrates Canadians' achievements across all sports. Each class of inductees represent a variety of athletes and builders, from people like Herman (Jackrabbit) Smith-Johannsen, the founder of cross-country skiing in Canada, to racehorse Northern Dancer.

Lueders and Wotherspoon were two of this year's inductees in the Grand Hall for Thursday's reveal.

When they received a phone call about their induction, both men said they went straight to their computers to research some of the 520 who have gone into the Hall before them.

"There's some big names there that you watched as a young kid growing up in Canada," Lueders said. "To be honoured with those same athletes, it's pretty hard to put into words."

Both athletes remain in their sport as coaches. Lueders is a pilot coach with Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton based in Calgary. The 41-year-old from Edmonton is grooming the next generation of drivers, but not the next Pierre Lueders.

"I think one Pierre Lueders was more than enough," he said with a chuckle.

Lueders won Olympic gold in 1998 and silver in 2006, as well as two world titles in two-man bobsled during his 20 years on the national team.

Wotherspoon, winner of a record 67 World Cup races and an Olympic silver medal, still holds the world record in the men's 500 metres.

The 35-year-old from Red Deer, Alta., oversees young speedskaters at an academy in Inzell, Germany. He's married to former speedskater Kim Weger and they have a young daughter Ella.

"I was always focused on the last race or the last month of training or the most recent events and this has given me a reason to look at my career as a whole," Wotherspoon said.

"I owe speedskating a lot. If it wasn't for this sport, I wouldn't be doing anything I'm doing now. I probably wouldn't have moved to Calgary, I wouldn't be in this Hall of Fame. I wouldn't be coaching speedskating in Germany. I met my wife in speedskating and she's the reason I have a daughter."

Niedermayer, from Edmonton, is the only hockey player to win every major North American and international championship in his career. That includes the Memorial Cup, world junior championship, men's world championship, the World Cup, Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal.

Niedermayer played 18 NHL seasons with New Jersey and Anaheim and won four Stanley Cups during his career.

Edmonton's Sale and Pelletier, from Sayabec, Que., provided Canada and the world riveting drama at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

They skated a stellar long program to "Love Story" but were initially given silver medals. Outrage over a judging scandal prompted the awarding of a second pair of gold medals to the Canadians during the Games. The judging system in figure skating has drastically altered because of that incident.

Like Lueders, Hooper was an outspoken pioneer in her sport and backed it up on the soccer pitch with long and decorated career. Hooper, born in Georgetown, Guyana, played in a record 129 international matches for Canada, including three FIFA Women's World Cups. She scored 71 international goals.

Porter, a rower born in Belfast, won two Olympic medals, including gold in the men's eights in 1992. Porter also won a world title in 1993 in single sculls.

Seaman was one of six businessmen who brought the Flames to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980. The Second World War veteran was a key player in getting the Saddledome built in 1983 and bringing the 1988 Winter Olympics to the city. His hockey foundation has contributed over $5 million to minor hockey initiatives.

Lay won bronze in swimming at the 1968 Summer Games in the freestyle relay. She went on to establish the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) and headed operations for Rick Hansen's Man in Motion World Tour in 1985.

Lay was a founder of the Canadian Sport Centre in Vancouver and served as chair of the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

Triathlete Peter Reid, hockey player Ray Bourque, football player Lui Passaglia, soccer player Andrea Neil, para-Alpine skier Lauren Woolstencroft and International Olympic Committee member Richard Pound were the first class of inductees to enter the new Hall last November.

Jeremy Wotherspoon (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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