Sports Announcer:
They come to the line.
It is Clara Hughes
of Canada, gold!
George:Clara Hughes,
the only Canadian athlete
in history to win
medals in both
the winter and summer
Olympic Games.
It’s a phenomenal achievement,
especially when you consider
that Clara
was once on track
for a very different
kind of life.
Growing up in Winnipeg
she was a bit of a wild teen:
drugs, skipping school,
smoked a pack of day.
And then at 16, she saw
Gaétan Boucher on TV.
Sports Announcer:
There it is, 1:58:36!
George:She decided, hey,
I want to be a speed skater.
Sport provided
the discipline that she needed.
She trained hard as a
speed skater and as a cyclist,
even when her body
was telling her to stop.
She began to feel lonely
and isolated.
A two-time Olympic medallist
suffering from depression.
Clara:I felt ashamed
of how I looked,
who I was, and it was easier
not to be around people. I was really afraid,
and really alone. George:So with the help
of the national team doctor,
she faced her
mental health issues head on.
she’s gone on
to win four,
that’s right,
four more Olympic medals.
And when the Canadian team
entered BC Place
for the 2010
Winter Olympics,
it was Clara
who carried the flag.
Now she’s back on a bike,
hoping to make
Canada’s 2012 Olympic team.And while she shared
some of her happiest moments
with the country,
she’s now sharing
the difficult ones, too.
She’s the spokesperson
for something called
the “Let’s Talk” campaign,
a program designed
to spark
a national conversation
about the realities
of mental health
and ending the stigma.Many will not get
the help they need because they’re afraid
to talk about it, and this
has to change. ♪ ♪ [applause] Please welcome
to the show Clara Hughes! [cheers and applause] Hi, George.
How are you? I’m great.
Nice to see you. Thanks for coming.
Have a seat. [applause] [laughs]
Welcome, miss! How are you? I’m a little nervous. Why? Because I watch your show
and I thought I would be in the studio
audience watching one day, and here I am
on it, so… Here where you belong. Thank you. We all belong here. This is an amazing thing
that you’re doing, but I can’t imagine this,
I mean, with tomorrow being the day,
and you’re out there really, I mean, you’re talking about it,
you’re selling it, you’re pushing it,
but you’re not talking about something abstract that
doesn’t belong to you. This is part of you. Yeah. So what’s the experience been
like, sharing all of this? Well, it began last year. And to be quite honest,
I would not be a part of this unless I had
something to share. And I don’t feel like
I’m only speaking for myself, I’m speaking for so many people
I know in my life that are very
close to me that are really,
really struggling and haven’t gotten through it
like I have. Um, it’s a battle, and it’s something that we do
not talk about in Canada. We have, you know, we are the third
worst country in the world, in the developed
industrialized world when it comes
to youth suicide. And we have yet to have
a mental health plan. We’re the only G8 country
without that. It’s coming out this year,
our federal government is coming out with it,
but it’s a long time coming. We have so far to go. And since last year,
the first year of “Let’s Talk,” so many Canadians
have approached me and told me their stories
and said thank you. More than anything I’ve
ever done in the Olympics, this has affected people. Could you have imagined that
this would be your story? That this would be
your life now? No, no. And honestly, when
I went through two years of struggling with depression,
it was– it was dark. I mean, would I turn back,
and if I could change that experience in
going through that and not have
this story to tell? I don’t know
the answer to that, but — How dark? Well I mean, as an athlete,
I was unable to do my job. I raced for
seven weeks one year and eight weeks
the next year and spent the rest of the year
in a state of darkness. And I gained weight,
I slept all day. I felt like I was a complete
and utter failure and I had to fix myself before
I came back into the world. I thought it was
all my fault, and I didn’t know what was
going on until somebody told me, and there was an
intervention by a doctor and he said you’re showing all
the indications of this, and you don’t need
to feel like you’re alone, there are ways
to get better. How did you– you said
there was an intervention, what was the process? You were
in there for something else, or someone called you? Yeah? Yeah. It was a regular physical
that we go through every year with the national
team doctor. And as an athlete, I mean,
there’s a lot of talk in Canada about how
there’s not enough support and our athletes struggle. But there are things
that are there for us as athletes that aren’t there
for regular Canadians. And we’re also taught
to talk about how we feel every second
of every day. How do you feel?
How are you doing? Are you recovered?
Are you tired? Are you this?
Are you that? So really it was because
I was in that environment that was open and
the doctor felt comfortable talking to me and
approaching me with it. That was the first step,
realizing that okay, I actually do
have something here; but secondly,
the most important thing was I realized I didn’t have
to just go through it alone. And that’s what
people struggle with, really. I mean, you’re right,
the big step is admitting to yourself
that you have to — that something is wrong, Yeah. or at least putting a name
to what might be wrong. Yes. And when you started
to tell people this, how did you feel
about that? Well, I don’t think
I really knew what I was getting into. I just — it seemed like
the right thing to share. And when I learned
ofBell’scampaign,and I learned it because after
the Vancouver Olympics, I went across Canada
becauseBellwas my sponsor,sharing what
the Olympics were like being an athlete
and carrying the flag and winning an Olympic medal
in Canada for Canada, I guess as Canada, and I learned
about this initiative that was coming up, and I shared
my story with George Cope and he said you know,
we really want you to be a part of this. And I said, I want to be a part
of this, I don’t care– I don’t care how or why
or in what capacity, I just want to help because
this is important. When you were in those moments
of real darkness, you were talking
about things like you couldn’t get out of bed,
you couldn’t train, all that. What did it feel like? You said you felt
like a failure, but what did that
feel like, you know? It just felt like
a despair that I, it was inescapable. I could not
get away from myself. I mean, it was just, it was me
dealing with these emotions of just helplessness
and feeling like nothing I could do was right
and everything I did was wrong, and I was never
going to feel better and it was only going to get
worse and worse and worse and I didn’t know
where it was going to go. It was terrifying. And it’s terrifying
to live with it, as well. To think of, you know,
it could come back. And I need to be
really careful, especially as
an athlete, I mean, I’m still training at
39 years old, hardcore, full on; every single day,
I push myself. I mean I trained
so hard this morning I felt like my head was going
to explode on the bike. That’s how hard
I have to push myself. How many 39-year-olds
will you be racing against? [laughs] Well, there is a woman
who at 51 years old came in fourth
at the Beijing Olympics in my event, so hey,
I’m a spring chicken. Come on,
give me some credit here! Holy cow! [applause] So at least you’re going
to try to pull it off. Part of sports and illness,
we use the same language all the time. We talk
about beating something, becoming victorious, battle, and we talk about
this all the time. The challenge of something
like a mental illness is that you can’t
always beat it. You just have
to manage it. Are we using the wrong language
in this conversation? Yeah, that’s a really
good question. I think that it’s a conversation
that we’ve started and it’s going
to shift. And I also think it’s different
for every single person. For some people it’s
a matter of managing it, some people can get fixed, some
people can fix themselves, but it is totally different
for each individual, and that’s what
I’m learning. Learning from
so many people. I mean, when I flew in
from Montreal this afternoon, when I was going
through security in Montreal a man approached me
and he said “I want to thank you
from my family. “Because of this campaign
I talked to my daughter “who is 42 years old
who is depressed. “And it’s because of this
campaign that I did that. I never would
have done that.” And then waiting
for my bags here on the Toronto Island airport,
a man approached me and told me
about his brother who is bipolar
who is coming out, he’s been in again
but he’s getting better, he’s coming out,
his family, three kids– he struggles,
but he pushes through, and thanking me
for my role in this. And my role
is so small. I have this
tiny story to tell, but I feel like maybe it’s
the first little baby step so people can
feel like, you know, if someone who is as successful
as an athlete as I’ve been, and I do share the joy
when I have it, I love to share the joy
and the rapture. If I can share that and
I’ve shared my struggle, I can show people that I’m human
and it’s okay to be human. Goes to show you, especially
when you spend your entire life being about you
and your pursuit, that your real value comes
when you can work with others. Oh, absolutely. I honestly don’t know if I could
still be doing this today without being involved in this
campaign first and foremost, without being involved
in “Right to Play.” Let’s play a clip
of Adam van Koeverden when he was
on the show. You just got back
from your “Right to Play”
trip in Mali, right? Yeah, I was in Western Africa
for eight days, it was a fantastic trip. Had you been to that
part of the world? I’ve been to Liberia before,
which is also in Western Africa, and
it’s a different country for sure,
they’re all different, they’ve all got
their special touch. Um, and it
was interesting. You know, it’s hard
to find adjectives to describe trips like this
because if you go to like the Caribbean
or Las Vegas, you can be like,
“Yeah, it was awesome!” Or you can just
say “drunk!” But it was tough,
and I mean, you know, Clara Hughes and I went,
and if you’ve heard of the Olympic sport, then you’ve
heard of Clara Hughes, I don’t have to
introduce her to anybody. And when we went so that we
could become better ambassadors and better advocates
for “Right to Play.” What was that
experience like? It was phenomenal. Aside from being with him,
because he’s an awesome guy to travel with. Oh, I know! Every day I was like,
“Let me just touch your arms!” [laughs] I mean, come on! The guy is like rah! I’m a leg athlete.
I kept telling him like, “Check out these legs.
You’ve got the arms, I’ve got the legs.
Let’s put you and me together.” But it was
really magical because I have admired
Adam for so long and he is a friend and
a colleague in sport, but I’ve never spent that
amount of time with him and I just have so
much respect for him as a human being,
as an athlete, his integrity. And we also have
a youth initiative that we’re
sharing in Mali, and we’ve raised
$100,000 for it already. It’s a three-year program… [applause] and… it’s just– thanks. It’s all about giving back and
finding a way to give back and finding a way
to shift this struggle in the human condition to
a little better place and, yeah. When you– So you know that
this is a big part of the second stage
of your life now, your public face. Do you have these big plans
of what it could be? Of what you could
do with this? I’ve never had plans. I’ve just always gone
with my heart. And I mean,
that’s what I, I’ve done that in
everything in sport. I saw Gaétan Boucher
skate in ’88 and I was like,
“I want to go to the Olympics and be a speed skater!” And I ended up
a bike racer. Troubled youth
at the time,
Yes! and you were in
big trouble, right? Were you battling
other stuff, too? Yeah, a little, kinda. I, yeah. I was channelling
all this energy I have into really bad places. my mother will
attest to that. And she is very grateful that
I saw the Olympics that day because it
changed my life. I went on to be
a bike racer. I didn’t even know
bike racing was a sport. I was like, “Tour de France,
what’s that? And who’s Steve Bauer,
that yellow jersey thing?” I didn’t know
anything about it, but a coach told me that
I could be good at it. I pursued it and
went to the Olympics. Is that what it’s about,
is it partly that
somebody looked at you and you were struggling
to find your own voice, and somebody said
you could be good at this, was it somebody
believing in you? It was, and I always had
teachers and people that believed in me, even
when I was getting in trouble, they said, if only
she could channel that into something good, and that
good happened to be sport. Stick around, Answerpology
with Clara when we come back. Olympic medals
in two sports, we’ll find out something
she wishes she was better at right after this. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Reporter:
Back home in Winnipeg,
this wall of fame
pays tribute
to a decade of
overcoming pain.
Sydney Games. It was such a
pleasure putting this together. Reporter:Clara’s mom
Maureen Hughes
isn’t just the curator;
she’s also the expert
on Clara’s strength,
its source.
She’s smiling so hard, you think
it’s going to break, you know, and… it’s always
been like that. She throws herself right
into whatever she’s doing. And it’s… when she’s beaming,
she’s beaming from inside. [applause] Aw! That’s my mom! [applause] You know, when you’re
an Olympic athlete and you, we only see
the race, right? We hear about
the training but we see– thanks forCBC Sports,
we get some lead up to it,
but what’s that embrace
like with your mother the first time
after you win? Well my mom actually
has only seen me race in two Olympics of
the five I’ve been to, and in the Vancouver Olympics
I told her, I’m like, “Mom, if you don’t come here,
this is the last time I’m going to skate!” And she’d only seen it on TV
because my mom is a caregiver for her mother,
my grandmother, and so she felt like
she couldn’t leave, and that’s my mom,
she’s amazing. My mom gave me
everything in my life. Any time I said, “Hey,
I’m thinking about this,” or “What about that?” She found
a way to get me involved and she’s the greatest
mom on Earth. All right, let’s play some
Answerpology here, ready? What’s your go-to song? Song?
Yeah. Ugh. Um… Ozzy, something Ozzy. Anything.
[laughter] Regardless, anything after Ozzy
is the right answer. [both laugh] We know what you’re really
good at in these sports. What is just something
in your daily life that you just suck at?
Like, we look at you and go– Oh! she won a million medals! What are you bad at? We need my husband
Peter here. I suck atScrabble.Oh, it’s not pretty. [both laugh] Lots of people have
frenemies these days, but nobody has a really good
old-fashioned archetypal nemesis anymore. Do you have
a nemesis in your sport? Oh, I did in
speed skating. Yeah? Yeah, German speed skater
Claudia Pechstein. She got the best of me
every single time until we were paired together,
last pair, 5,000 metres, Torino Olympics,
we saw it in the intro. [laughs]
Canada! [laughter and applause] In that moment… in that moment
when you know this person gets the best of you
all the time do you think, “What am I
doing to beat this person?” Like what do you
start thinking about? How do you beat
your nemesis? You run and you skate
and you ride like you are fighting
for your life. What do you do
when you retire? Because this is– I assume,
like you’re going to go til clearly you’re 51
you say, right? But… [laughs] When you’re done your last
Olympics in 20-whatever, 45… [chuckles] there’s nothing else in life
that you’re going to be able to build towards that
will give you that payoff. Hm, nothing.
Right. And you know, the thing
that I came closest to was doing a sweat lodge. Last summer,
I spent two months paddling on the east arm
of the Great Slave Lake and I was in this little village
called Lutsel K’e and we were invited
to do a sweat lodge with the local
Aboriginal people. And my husband Peter
and I went in there and it was the closest
thing I ever felt to that, that release– the suffering
that led to the release and I was like, “Oh, I’ll have
to do this when I quit.” [laughs] Be careful,
it’s not a competition there. If you’re a sore loser there
it goes badly, all right? That’s true. You want to make sure
you follow this along, “Let’s Talk” Day,
that is tomorrow. Lots of different
initiatives going on to support mental health through
texting and social media, you send a text message
and money is raised. How– where’s
the money going, so you– it goes
to this big fund, what happens to that money
that people donate? It is going to
so many places: research, development– Do people apply for grants
to get the money? Yeah, there’s community,
there’s grassroot community level support,
there were so many grants given of $10,000 last year, today there was
a $1 million announcement. First ever anti-stigma
chair in the world for research on anti-stigma
atQueen’s University.That’s so great.
You can actually go to: and find out how you
can be a part of this
conversation as well. Clara Hughes, everybody!
We’ll be right back. Yes! [applause]

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