Salmon Arm’s Natalie Wilkie both gave and received appreciations at a recent city council meeting.
Wilkie came to council on May 24 with the bouquet of medals she earned in para nordic skiing at the 2022 Beijing Paralympics – two golds, one silver and a bronze.
Mayor Alan Harrison outlined her long list of cross-country skiing achievements from 2017 – when she was just 17 – to the present. The list of more than a dozen medals included a bronze, silver and gold from the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“That is quite a list for a young woman. More than that, we had an opportunity to chat before this meeting. You are not only a superior athlete, but a very poised, engaging and delightful young woman. We are very proud of you.”
Harrison said council would like to present her with a certificate of distinction from the city.
Coun. Debbie Cannon recounted how she took her granddaughters downtown in 2018 when Wilkie was given a ride around town in a city fire truck.
“They were so excited and proud of you, at such a young age, it was such a delight to be there when you were arriving in the fire truck. You’ve done our community proud, it’s quite an achievement you’ve made at two Olympics. So congratulations.”
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond complimented Wilkie on inspiring people.
“When you think about Olympic athletes, it’s not so much about the medals around their neck as the people they inspire to go and get medals too. I’m sure you were inspired by great athletes and great artists because you’re a great artist as well… Just know you’ve inspired a lot of greatness in others. That’s a very lovely gift you’re giving to us as a community.”
Wilkie said she felt all the support, especially from Salmon Arm.
“We’re a small community but when it comes down to it, I’m so proud to be from Salmon Arm and call this place my home… Thank you everyone and I’m honoured to be here tonight.”
Wallace Richmond asked her what it was like to throw the first pitch for the Blue Jays April 8 game in Toronto.
“The first pitch was honestly extremely stressful,” she said with a smile. “It was a home opener, so the stands were completely sold out. There were 50,000 people and I can’t say I’m the best pitcher.
Wilkie said she warned the team not to expect too much, as “I’m a skier, not a baseball person.”
Wilkie was one of 14 Canadian 2022 Winter Olympians and Paralympians who were celebrated at Rogers Centre.
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