Last night the Pointe-Claire Canoe Club threw me a ‘retirement’ party, which gave me the unique opportunity to gather together many of the people that have profoundly influenced my life and paddling career. It was one of the best moments of my career as an athlete.
Saying thank you properly isn’t easy. I often see many of these people, either individually or in small groups, but finally having the chance to say thank you to all of them at once, was something I’ve wanted to do for many years. Throughout my time paddling I’ve always stressed how important Pointe-Claire was for my success. It’s more than simply the unwavering support I’ve had from my club and the city itself; Pointe-Claire’s infrastructure demonstrates a powerful commitment to a vision of physical activity as a fundamental aspect of a healthy happy life. I grew up on soccer, baseball, hockey, swimming, sailing, and canoeing, and I know I couldn’t have accomplished half of what I’ve accomplished were it not for all those experiences. Last night was a chance for me to thank the community that raised me, and without whom, I would be nowhere. There was as close to a complete list of people there as I could have hoped for: my family, close friends, the Mayor, City Councillors, and people from the Recreation Department of Pointe-Claire, former teachers, coaches, kids, masters, and volunteers from PCCC, and many more.
Here’s a picture of Bill Cordner, one of the indispensable people mentioned above, handing me a plaque which reads: ‘Presented to Thomas hall, in recognition of his remarkable achievements and valuable contribution to the Pointe-Claire Canoe Club throughout his sprint canoe career.’
And below is a picture of me handing the Mayor of Pointe-Claire, Bill McMurchie, one of my paddles, with the following message on it: ‘To the city of pointe-Claire, Thank you for making my dreams become a reality. Thomas Hall, Olympic Bronze Medalist, Beijing 2008.’ The paddle was a way for me to give something back to a community that has meant, and will always mean, so much to me.
Once again, I owe the club, city, the people present last night, and those that sent their congratulations, a big THANK YOU.