She’s not just an Olympic athlete and medalist, Rhian Wilkinson has something else to add to a long list of accomplishments: having a park named after her.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” the 34-year-old soccer veteran said.
“I was just so honoured that they would think of me, first of all, and that they’d actually do it. It’s pretty incredible.”
On Saturday, Baie d’Urfé’s Dorset Park was officially renamed Rhian Wilkinson Park, in honour of the soccer star who has always called the Montreal town home.
“She’s so humble, so honest, so down-to-earth,” Mayor Maria Tutino said.
“And you’re there going: ‘How do we just grab her and just get her speaking to all our kids?'”
In front of friends, family, community members and politicians, Wilkinson recounted how she went from your average West Island kid to a Canadian soccer powerhouse.
Wilkinson grew up playing soccer on the very field that now bears her name. From there, she went on to qualify for not one, not two, but three Olympic teams, becoming a role model for a new generation of players.
“It’s really cool… to know that she’s from here too. It’s inspirational, I find,” said Nicole Sheeno, before joining in a set of just-for-fun soccer drills organized by Wilkinson.
“As you see, she’s a beautiful person as well as a great athlete so we’re very proud of her indeed,” Wilkinson’s mother Shan Evans said.
“I’m flabbergasted by this to be honest!”
As she prepares to depart for nothing short of the greatest sporting event on earth, this West Island park is what has Wilkinson so humbled.
“People say: ‘There aren’t words’ a lot and I hate to repeat that sentence but really, it’s so touching,” she said. “This is the greatest honour I’ve ever received and a day I’ll never forget.”