Damian Warner the keynote speaker at 11th annual Lewis Coray Trailblazer Awards

Gold medalist Damian Warner, of Canada, center, poses during the medal ceremony for the decathlon at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Tokyo. AP Photo/Martin Meissner

London Olympic Champion Damian Warner was among those on hand Wednesday for the 11th annual Lewis Coray Trailblazer Awards, organized by the London Police Service to “recognize outstanding youth from African, Caribbean and Black Communities in London.”

The keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony, which was held virtually, Warner congratulated this year’s finalists and nominees, including Rebecca Lufungulo, Jessica Gyamfi, and Sharon Zembwe, and encouraged them to set big goals.

“I think the message my Mom told me when I was younger is extremely important, and one that I believe to be true. You can do anything you set your mind to,” Warner said.

Read more: Feb. 4, 2020: London police honours force’s first Black officer with renaming of community room

Warner also spoke to the importance and impact that Black role models had on his life, and on his Olympic journey.

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“Growing up, like many kids, I knew there weren’t too many strong role models in our communities. Many of our parents were single, working two jobs to put food on our table, just like my Mom,” he said.

“I think it’s important to have people who are in these communities, and who are working in these communities, or who have lived in these communities, be strong role models and lead in a way that can help kids realize that there is greatness beyond what they know,” he continued.

“I appreciate guys like Sgt. Lewis Coray for being one of those role models.”

Sgt. Lewis (Bud) Coray became London’s first Black police officer in 1951 and served for three decades before retiring in 1982.

The awards have been given out in his name during Black History Month since 2012 as a way to honour his contributions to policing and to the community.

According to London police, the awards are presented every year to local youth who submit a winning essay or video which outlines the importance of Black History Month and what it means to them.

Click to play video: 'Canada’s athlete of the year Damian Warner'
Canada’s athlete of the year Damian Warner

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