Hughes gets hero’s welcome on way through Winnipeg

The rain did little to dampen the excitement surrounding the return of Clara Hughes to her hometown Winnipeg.

Clara Hughes, Winnipeg’s most-decorated Olympian, received a hero’s welcome when she arrived in the city on Saturday in the midst of a pounding rainstorm.

The visit was part of Clara’s Big Ride, the 110-day cross Canada trek that has already taken the six-time medal winner through the Maritimes, the north and across western Canada in support of mental health.

On Monday, Hughes was at her former high school, Elmwood High, showing off her Olympic hardware and sharing her life experiences of dealing with depression. She received an overwhelming reception and send-off from the students.

One of the many cyclists who showed up to support the mental health awareness campaign spearheaded by Clara Hughes.

“I can honestly say with the support of Winnipeg since we rolled into town in that torrential rain, all the people that came out to Clara Hughes Recreation Park and then the Manitoba Big Social, all raising money for the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) Winnipeg … has been phenomenal,” Hughes said as she began to pedal east to Kenora on Day 95 of Clara’s Big Ride.

Hughes encouraged students struggling with mental health to seek help, and for friends witnessing this, to lend a hand.

“It means the world to me, the wind we can feel is a westerly wind, we are heading east, so I can say I’m leaving home with the wind at my back and it feels great.”

There were many young people who came to see Clara Hughes.

“She’s got all Manitoba behind her,” said Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger. “She has not only the wind at her back, she has over a million Manitobans who’ve got her back as well, so she’s got the support of everyone in this province.”

Clara’s Big Ride wraps up on July 1 in Ottawa.

For more photos from Clara’s Big Bike Ride, visit

All photos by Gregory McNeill

Gregory C. McNeill


Greg has been writing stories and taking pictures of local cyclists, runners, and triathletes for over 4 years. He is a member of, volunteers with trail building at, and is a participant in long distance cycling with