Penny Oleksiak, Toronto Olympic athletes honoured with parade and community celebration
Residents wearing red and white lined the streets of east Toronto on Sunday to pay tribute to local Olympic athletes following the Rio Games, including Canada’s closing ceremony flag-bearer and medallist Penny Oleksiak.
A parade featuring current and former east Toronto Olympic athletes made its way along Danforth Avenue, Woodbine Avenue and Queen Street East and ended with a community celebration at Kew Gardens.
“I like seeing all my supporters and everything but it’s so crazy,” the 16-year-old Oleksiak, who won a gold, a silver and two bronze medals for swimming at the Rio Games, told Global News.
“I’m really, really happy with [the celebration]. It’s been great and everyone has been so supportive so I’m really really grateful.”
When asked about her plans for the future, Oleksiak said she has one goal.
“Just to swim my fastest. I can’t really have a lot of pressure on myself, so I’m trying to swim the best I can.”
Michelle Williams, who won a bronze medal for swimming at the Rio Games, rode with Oleksiak during the parade and was excited by the turn out.
“When we’re training, we’re alone – the lights are off – and then it’s so great to be able to come out like this and see how many people are supporting us,” Williams said.
Williams said she is looking forward to the World Championships in December and starting nursing studies in September, 2017.
Meanwhile, during the community celebration Mayor John Tory proclaimed Sept. 7 as Toronto Olympian and Paralympian Day.
“[Toronto Olympian and Paralympian Day is] just to acknowledge the hard work they put in and how proudly they represented our city and our country and so I thought if we gave a bit of notice we could declare a day in their honour.”
Tory said residents should be proud of the athletes for the way they have conducted themselves.
“They are not just people who have proven themselves to be incredibly accomplished, skilled athletes,” Tory said.
“When we saw them on TV during the Olympics, they were people who represented our city in such a proud manner that any parent, grandparent or any fellow citizen would be proud of.
With files from Erica Vella
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.