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Chalmers, Nelson headed to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame with Class of 2024

Ceremony set for October in Quebec

Angela Chalmers, who carried the Canadian flag in the opening ceremony and then recorded a pulsating and popular hometown victory in the women’s 3,000 metres at Centennial Stadium in the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games, has been selected for induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame with the Class of 2024.

Chalmers, who also won the bronze medal in the 3,000 metres at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, was born in Brandon, Manitoba, but spent much of her life and all of her training and competitive career based on the Island, first in Nanaimo and then Victoria.

Known for her long, ­loping stride, Chalmers also won bronze in the 1985 World University Games in Kobe, Japan, silver in the 3,000 metres at the 1987 Indianapolis Pan Am Games and double gold medals in the 1,500 and 3,000 metres at the 1990 ­Auckland ­Commonwealth Games. ­Chalmers was fourth at the 1995 world ­championships in ­Gothenburg, Sweden, and an Olympic medal hope for Atlanta in 1996 before an injury kept her out of those Games. She retired in 1997 and lives in ­Brisbane, Australia.

Chalmers’ father was ­Scottish and mother Sioux from the ­Birdtail Reservation, and she has stood as an advocate for First Nations causes.

“When I first started ­travelling internationally, my [late] father said to me to ‘make sure people know you are Canadian’ and gave me a ­little ­Canadian Maple Leaf pin to wear,” ­Chalmers said in a statement.

“Little did I know I would be wearing the Maple Leaf running on the world stage of athletics. It was a privilege to represent Canada and now it is a privilege to … be included with the Class of 2024 as an inductee to Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame. I am honoured.”

Chalmers was inducted into the B.C Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

Also being inducted in the Class of 2024 is former soccer star and legendary Island sports builder Alex Nelson.

“This is a complete honour and a wonderful surprise. I am really honoured to be a part of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame,” he said.

The Musgamaqw-Dzawada’enuxw First Nation member was cited for “helping to transform access to sport and recreation for Indigenous people in Canada.”

Nelson and Chalmers are both part of the recently-opened Indigenous Sport Gallery at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s our responsibility to spread the word and connect our young people to what the older people did in sports,” said Nelson.

“That’s so our young people can start to believe in themselves and think to themselves: ‘If they made it, I can make it, too.’ ”

Nelson was inducted into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 and recalled that sports were a cherished escape from the otherwise harsh reality of Residential School: “Sport meant freedom to me. It always stayed with me that there’s more to these games than just the game. Sports have value. I applied that lesson later in life when I asked myself what is my purpose here.”

The Alex Nelson Award is given annually to the top First Nations athletes in Greater ­Victoria.

Nelson and Chalmers join a starry list of previous Island inductees into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, including Lester Patrick, Doug Peden, Norm Baker, Paul Rowe, Silken Laumann, Derek Porter, Simon Whitfield, Peter Reid, Gareth Rees, Alison Sydor, Brenda Taylor, Kirsten Barnes, Stephanie Dixon and Steve Nash, among others.

Also being inducted with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2024 are two-time Olympic gold-medallist hockey player Vicky Sunohara, Olympic doubles gold-medallist and Grand Slam tennis player Daniel Nestor, Olympic high-jumper Debbie Brill, three-time world champion and three-time Olympic-medallist figure-skater Patrick Chan, Paralympics multiple gold-medallist swimmer Kirby Cote, multi-sport athlete Fred Thomas and builder Dr. Guylaine Demers.

The induction ceremony is Oct. 23 at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.

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