New Cindy medal

ADAM CLAYTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

Canada's most decorated Olympic athlete is about to add another medal to her collection.

Cindy Klassen -- who won five medals, including gold at the Turin Games in February -- will soon be inducted into the Order of Manitoba along with fellow speed skater Clara Hughes and hockey player Jennifer Botterill.

Hughes, 33, won gold in the 3,000-metre event in Turin, while Botterill, 26, was a member of the gold-medal-winning women's hockey team.

Lt.-Gov. John Harvard made the announcement at Government House yesterday morning to kick of a day-long series of events honouring Manitoba's Olympic athletes.

"It's been kind of a whirlwind but it's really exciting, and I think the whole day is going to be really fun," said Klassen, 26. "It's just great to be back in Winnipeg again."

The athletes will become the youngest members of the Order of Manitoba -- the highest honour the province can bestow -- when they receive their medals this summer and join past recipients such as musician Burton Cummings and game show host Monty Hall.

'INCREDIBLE'

"To receive something like this at my age is incredible, and it's something that I never thought could happen," said Hughes.

Botterill, who also won hockey gold at the Salt Lake City games and silver at the Nagano games, said the trio had no idea what was in store until Sunday night.

"They kept the whole day sort of in secrecy. I just got a call last night explaining what they were going to do this morning," she said.

"It really is such an honour, to be involved with that kind of elite company. It's a great day for us and a really nice start."

Hughes, the only Canadian to win medals in both the summer and winter Olympics, said she hopes the success Canada's female athletes enjoyed at the recent Winter Games will encourage young girls to become involved in sports.

"I think it's going to bode very well for young Canadians," she said.

"What I hope we're able to do is show young people and young girls in particular that you can be anything that you want to be, the sky's the limit."


Photos