Cheering section

CHRIS KITCHING -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

Cindy Klassen flashed her modest smile, waved and wiped away tears as thousands of Manitobans jumped out of their seats to welcome her home.

Adoring fans of the overwhelmed Olympic icon gave her three standing ovations during a 25-minute ceremony before last night's Manitoba Moose game at the MTS Centre.

'TOUCHED MY HEART'

"It means the world to me and it's really touched my heart," Klassen, 26, said of the support while cheering spectators waved Canadian flags and homemade signs. "My heart is always here in Winnipeg, Manitoba."

When it was over, Klassen walked away with a framed Moose jersey and two big honours from the city.

Mayor Sam Katz publicly revealed Sargent Park Pool & Recreation Complex will be renamed "Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex."

A new road in the athlete's childhood neighbourhood of North Kildonan will be called "Cindy Klassen Way."

"That's the right thing to do. That's the least we could do," said Gary Ferguson, who attended the game with his nine-year-old son, Quentin. "They should maybe even build a new speed-skating complex."

Fans said they got wrapped up in Klassen's record-setting five-medal performance at last month's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

"I usually reserve the term 'awesome' for God, but she's incredible," Harv Wiebe said while planted in his upper deck seat beside his wife, Karen. "I'm just impressed with the calibre of her character and personality."

Fans watched a video tribute and a recorded greeting by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Klassen also dropped the puck during a ceremonial face-off before the Moose played their AHL rival Toronto Marlies.

Plans are underway to honour all Winnipeg Olympians during an event April 11 at Old Market Square in the Exchange District.

Sargent Park, in the West End, is in the midst of $5.2 million in upgrades that are part of a $43-million plan to renovate community recreational centres.

Among the improvements are swimming pool and tennis court upgrades and a new indoor running track, fitness room, gymnasium and skateboard park.

The outdoor Susan Auch Oval will retain its name. Auch won silver medals in the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics.

Klassen trained at the oval until she moved to Calgary to pursue her dream of participating in the Olympics.


Photos