Throughout the years, hundreds of Canadian athletes have made their mark on the world of sport and represented Canada at the highest level. We’ve made a list of some of the most influential, and while it’s impossible to rank the best of the best, we’re sure you’ll agree that each of the athletes on this list has had a big impact on sports in Canada.
10. Georges St-Pierre
Georges St Pierre may not be as well known as some of the other athletes on this list, but among combat sports fans, he’s a legend. Better known as GSP, Georges helped to turn the UFC and mixed martial arts mainstream. He defended his world title eight times before coming out of four-year retirement to win the middleweight world title in 2017.
9. Mike Weir
Mike Weir was one of the first Canadians to achieve success at the highest level in golf. In the early 2000s, he spent the majority of his time in the top ten rankings and brought a major golf title to Canada for the first time ever when he won the Masters in 2003.
8. Nancy Greene
Widely regarded as Canada’s top female athlete of the 20th century, Greene was a trailblazer for female Canadian athletes. She won the first-ever World Cup skiing race in 1967 before winning gold at the 1968 winter Olympic giant slalom event.
7. Donovan Bailey
For a time, Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey held the record as the fastest man in the world. Throughout his career, he represented Canada at two Olympics, winning two golds and one silver and would later go on to help promote sport in the country.
6. Marie Philip-Poulin
As the captain of Canada’s hockey team, Philip-Poulin has led her team to two Olympic gold medals plus a silver medal. Her hard work and leadership provide an excellent example for other aspiring athletes.
5. Christine Sinclair
Canada’s national women’s soccer team is currently ranked in the top ten, thanks in part to the skills of captain Christine Sinclair. She’s considered one of the best female soccer players of all time and has 296 appearances and 186 goals for Canada.
4. Clara Hughes
Clara Hughes has won six Olympic medals and also has an unusual record as being one of the only athletes in the world to have won medals at both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. Primarily a speed skater, Hughes also won two bronze medals in cycling at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
3. Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby is regarded as one of the best hockey players of all time and has amassed over 1200 points over his fifteen-year playing career alongside eight all-star appearances and three Stanley Cups. Crosby also won two Olympic gold medals with Canada, including the 2010 final, where he scored a famous golden goal in the finals.
2. Cindy Klassen
At the 2006 winter Olympic, Klassen became the only Canadian athlete to ever win five medals at one Olympic games. She’s also Canada’s most decorated female athlete, with 24 medals in speed skating.
1. Wayne Gretzky
Gretzky played twenty seasons in the NHL between 1979 and 1999, and despite being retired for more than twenty years, he still holds just about every offensive record there is. Gretzky is the only NHL player to ever total more than 200 points in a single season, and he didn’t just do it once, but four times.