Clara Hughes - Photo credit Simon Baker

Clara Hughes

Six-Time Olympic Medalist | Mental Health Advocate

After spending half her life striving to be the fastest person in the world, six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes decided to switch gears and “slow down to the pace of a human being.” This led her to hike over 16,000 kilometres, where she discovered the healing power of movement. In her candid, personal talks, Hughes explores how movement can change lives, and draws from her experience living with depression to inspire audiences to face their fears, find their voice, and become the champions they’re meant to be.

Hughes is the only athlete in Olympic history to win multiple medals in both summer and winter Games, representing Canada in both speed skating and cycling. In addition, she served as Team Canada’s flag-bearer at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

As the founding spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk, a campaign designed to end the stigma attached to mental illness, Hughes helped jumpstart the conversation on mental wellness. In 2014, she completed a 110-day national bicycle tour through every province and territory in Canada called “Clara’s Big Ride”. She covered more than 11,000 kilometres, visited 105 communities, and hosted over 235 events to raise awareness for mental health. She is also the author of the bestselling memoir, Open Heart, Open Mind.

Over the course of her distinguished career, Hughes has won countless awards and accolades. She was awarded the International Olympic Committee’s Sport and Community Trophy, honoured with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and named a member of the Order of Manitoba and an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2022, she was named an Olympian for Life in recognition of her making the world a better place by promoting the Olympic Values at every stage of her life.

In her effort to lead a life in motion, Hughes has completed the “Triple Crown” of long-distance hiking — the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail — and continues to this day, to find deep meaning in outdoor adventure pursuits.

Open Heart, Open Mind

From one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians comes a raw but life-affirming story of one woman’s struggle with depression. In a world where winning meant everything, her biggest competitor was herself.

In 2006, when Clara Hughes stepped onto the Olympic podium in Torino, Italy, she became the first and only athlete ever to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games. Four years later, she was proud to carry the Canadian flag for Team Canada as they participated in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. But there’s another story behind her celebrated career as an athlete, behind her signature billboard smile.

While most competitive athletes devote their entire lives to training, Hughes spent her teenage years using drugs and drinking to escape the stifling home life her alcoholic father had created in Elmwood, Winnipeg. She was headed nowhere fast when, at sixteen, she watched transfixed in her living room as gold medal speed skater Gaétan Boucher effortlessly raced in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Dreaming of one day competing herself, Hughes channeled her anger, frustration, and raw ambition into the endurance sports of speed skating and cycling. By 2010, she had become a six-time Olympic medalist.

After more than a decade in the grueling world of competitive sports that stripped away her confidence and bruised her body, Hughes began to realize that her physical extremes, her emotional setbacks, and her partying habits were masking a severe depression. After winning bronze in the last speed skating race of her career, she decided to retire from that sport, determined to repair herself. She has since emerged as one of our most committed humanitarians, advocating for a variety of social causes both in Canada and around the world. In 2010, she became a national spokesperson for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign in support of mental health awareness, using her Olympic platform to share the positive message of the power of forgiveness.

Told with honesty and passion, “Open Heart, Open Mind” is Hughes’ personal journey through physical and mental pain to a life where love and understanding can thrive. This revelatory and inspiring story will touch the hearts of all Canadians.

Movement is Medicine

Clara Hughes has lived a life in constant motion. From the highest level of sport, winning medals for Canada in speed skating and cycling, to the long-distance hiking trails.

Since competing in her last Olympic Games, Hughes has spent months on the trail, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Appalachian Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, Arizona Trail, and John Muir Trail, as well as thousands of kilometres of bike touring, adventure kayaking, and so much more.

Moving through mountains, desert, and wilderness spaces have, in her own words, “allowed for a disconnection to the fast and furious pace of modern society, slowing things down to the pace of a human being.” Through nature and the power of movement, she was able to heal.

Whether you live in a big city or mountain town, Hughes shares how the opportunity to heal is available to us all. Through humour and practical advice, she helps audiences learn to listen so they can heal, and disconnect so that they can reconnect with who they really are, let go of the fear of failing, and learn to truly feel.

A Life in Motion

Clara Hughes is as passionate about adventure as she was for Olympic sport. In 2017, she made the unprecedented move of walking away from everything: a successful career in broadcasting, public speaking, and the many advocacy roles she cared deeply about.

She took her first steps into a new life at a different speed. After spending years trying to be the fastest person on earth in two different sports (speed skating and cycling) Clara’s new goal was to slow it down to the pace of an average human being. To do this, she began walking the long-distance trails of North America, seeking experiences, connections, and lessons from living in the simplest ways while immersed in nature. With close to 20,000 kilometres travelled, she is back to share her extraordinary experiences and discoveries.

Join Clara as she takes you through a wide-ranging journey of self-discovery. From desert spaces to mountain places to vast plains, she discovered beauty and wisdom hidden all around her while facing her ultimate challenge: herself.

Celebrity Services

Clara Hughes is represented by The Spotlight Agency for sponsorships, endorsements, public relations and media spokesperson campaigns, product launches, voiceovers, celebrity appearances, and more.  Please visit The Spotlight Agency for more details.