SOCHI, Russia - Canada’s Kaillie Humphries continues to drive the sport of bobsleigh into the international spotlight - this time while being named Sportswoman of the Year for 2014 at the inaugural SportAccord Euronews Awards in Sochi, Russia on Thursday evening.
“This is such a huge honour. Sport has been a major part of my lift from the age of seven, and the goal of going to the Olympics is what fueled me,” said Humphries during her acceptance speech. “I’ve done every sport possible growing up. My family gave me huge support. I grew up in a house and family that taught me anything is possible. That in addition to my coaches, therapists, everyone at my international federation and Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, is the reason why I’m able to stand up here today. For that I thank you.”
Having been recognized with a list of awards and medals this spring as long as the tracks she competes on - from receiving Canada’s 2014 Lou Marsh Award as the nation’s top athlete to being named women’s athlete of the year in her hometown of Calgary and everything in between - Humphries was on centre stage again in Sochi. Not far away from where she and Heather Moyse stood on the top step of the podium to receive their second straight Olympic gold medal, this time Humphries was on stage for breaking down gender barriers in her sport in addition to her extraordinary international sporting achievements.
“Our sport is one that often flies under the radar in North America, but thanks to Kaillie’s incredible achievements and heavy lifting, she has driven it into news headlines around the world,” said Sarah Storey, president, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, who added the award is also presented to an athlete who serves as role model for youth around the world.
“Kaillie is proof to not only young women, but to all kids around the world, that anything is possible if you dream big, work hard and remain committed to the goal. On behalf of everyone at Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, I congratulate Kaillie for encouraging kids to get involved in sport, for winning this prestigious award, and thank her for her efforts in growing bobsleigh.”
Honouring excellence in the sporting world, the SportAccord Awards celebrate personalities and entities who have made significant contributions in the world of the International Sports Federations. Humprhies won the award over Geva Mentor (netball player from England), legendary Norwegian cross-country skier - Marit Bjoergen, and Russian gymnast - Yana Kudryavtseva.
General public vote for their favourite candidates. The top-four candidates with the most votes in each award category make the shortlist for the final awards ceremony. The winners are decided by an ad hoc Commission composed of representatives of sport law, media and all groups of SportAccord member International Federations. Its members have extensive expertise and knowledge that they put to use when analyzing the feats of the finalists, and deciding on the winner.
It has been a historic run for the 29-year-old Humphries. The two-time World Cup champion, who along with Heather Moyse became the first women’s bobsleigh athletes ever to successfully defend their Olympic title, drove into new territory during the 2014-15 season.
Thanks to Humphries’ resilient legwork, women’s bobsleigh athletes around the world were given increased opportunities to develop their skills and race against the world’s best on the elite stage, following a decision by the FIBT that allowed mixed-gender and women’s teams to compete in four-man races.
Humphries was instrumental in encouraging the FIBT to provide women with the opportunity to race the four-man bobsleigh discipline - a race previously done only by men.
“This is an absolutely amazing day and something I have been very passionate about happening over the last two years,” said Humphries in regards to the four-man decision. “We live in an age now where it has become more and more acceptable in many sports to have women compete with the men.
“Every athlete wants to have a legacy and this is something I believe strongly in,” added Humphries. “This will help bridge the gap between having another event for women in our sport, but more importantly is huge in growing our sport for women, and developing my skills as a pilot.”
Humphries has completely rewritten the record books over the last four years where she became the first Canadian woman to win not only two Olympic, but also two World Championship titles in the sport. Along the way she also set a new record for wins-in-a-row at nine, and went on to reach the podium in 15 straight races - 11 of them victories.