Canadians notoriously slow to self-congratulation. We lack the loud red, white, and blue of our cousins to the south – perhaps in direct and necessary contrast. As a result, we tend to take our standing and accomplishments for granted. Fittingly, at the centre of our humbleness – literally, figuratively, spiritually, economically, and culturally – is a cosmopolis that produces excellence born of diversity that rivals any region in the world, whether on ice, rinks, tracks and rivers the world over.

The GTA is a unique experiment – a blending of the urban and rural within a multiplicity of cultures. Its rich composition breeds a competitive spirit informed by its resources and spirit. And vicariously, we all get to indulge in the dreams of a few, to the pride and delight of many. When athletes like Greg Westlake, Phylicia George, Renata Fast, and Adam van Koeverden wear the maple leaf and grace podiums at home and abroad, they do so as a result of our cultural and personal investment in the riches of a region. They are what happens when the great experiment is a success, and their successes are our pride.

The GTA does not just breed athletic excellence; it informs its accomplishment, its character, and its abundance. What follows is not a celebration of four competitors, but rather the celebration of four very different stories that could only begin in and around Toronto.

Phylicia George

Canadian Track and Field and Bobsledder

Greg Westlake

Canadian Ice Sledge Paralympic Hockey Player

Renata Fast

Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey Player

Adam Van Koeverden

Canadian Sprint Kayaker