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Island greats Cochrane, Sharpe to be inducted into B.C. Sports Hall of Fame

Swimmer, skier won Olympic medals
Comox’s Cassie Sharpe celebrates her silver medal in the freestyle women’s ski halfpipe final during the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

They went from Saanich Commonwealth Place and Mount Washington to world podiums. Two Island athletes with two Olympic medals each are among the Class of 2024 inductees into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, announced Wednesday. 

Ryan Cochrane of Victoria won 1,500-metres freestyle bronze and silver medals, respectively, at the 2008 ­Beijing and 2012 London Summer Olympics and almost alone kept Canadian swimming afloat in the mostly dry era before the ­Canadian pool medal ­explosions to come at Rio and Tokyo for which Cochrane laid the ­foundation. 

Claremont Secondary-grad Cochrane’s previous record of 22 total international medals from the Olympics, world championships, Commonwealth and Pan Am Games and Pan Pacific championships was broken recently by Penny Oleksiak. 

“This is a true honour and it was a privilege to represent Canada on the international stage,” said Cochrane. 

“In retirement, you gain an appreciation that while an internal drive is the flame that gets you through, it’s the sense of community that allows you to get to podiums.” 

Cassie Sharpe of Comox hopped on the skis at age nine on Mount Washington and never looked back in winning women’s freestyle ski half-pipe gold and silver medals, respectively, at the 2018 Pyeongchang and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 

“We had the freedom of the local mountain [Mount Washington],” said Sharpe, a graduate of Highland Secondary. 

“My brothers and I would spend all day up on the mountain skiing and boarding endless hours from morning to evening. This [induction] all came from that and growing up on the Island and on Mount Washington. I have not taken in the magnitude of this enshrinement yet. I am just so honoured.” 

Cochrane, 35, retired following the 2016 Rio Olympics and is also inducted in the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame. But the 31-year-old Sharpe is still in mid-career and plans on competing in the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics, after giving birth to daughter Louella two months ago, so the induction coming so soon surprised her. The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, however, has a stipulation stating that Olympic gold medallists are automatically to be enshrined and the process need not wait until retirement. 

“I am so shocked because I still plan on competing and ­adding to my career,” said Sharpe. 

Now as a mother, she will do so with new sense of perspective, both psychologically and logistically. 

“This brings a cool new ­element to my life and skiing career,” said Sharpe. “I will be bringing Louella with me — half mom [time] half ski [time].” 

The other athletes being inducted in the Class of 2024 are 14-season MLB player and 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau from New Westminster, the late Canadian national team baseball star Amanda Asay of Prince George and golfer Richard Zokol of Kelowna. 

The builders/coaches being inducted in the Class are Dr. Bob McCormack from sports medicine, the late Wayne ­Norton from baseball and the late ­Beverley Felske from ringette. The media inductee is former SportsPage and Sportsnet host Don Taylor. The team inductee is the 1998 Williamsport Little League World Series third-place Langley squad. 

The induction ceremony is in June at the Vancouver Conference Centre and will bring to 452 individuals and 69 teams enshrined into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame since its inception in 1966. The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame is located in B.C. Place Stadium. 

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