Canadian Spotlight: Elizabeth Manley

Another week, another new feature on the blog! This one sort of came out of the blue though. If you’ve talked to me since I began blogging, you’ll know that I have a love for Twitter. After all, it was Twitter that helped me convince Jann Arden to call my wife on her birthday this year.

Imagine my surprise this week, when I ended up in another conversation with Canada’s Sweetheart, the one and only Elizabeth Manley. Her Twitter handle is @Lizmanley88 by the way. You should follow her now and say hi for me. She was incredibly friendly and I decided to abuse that friendliness by asking her if she would let me feature her on the blog. You would have done the same so don’t judge!

It’s not often that you get a chance to talk to an Olympic Hero and I think it’s important that we don’t lose touch with them either. Besides that, Liz (I hope I can call you Liz, we never really discussed it) has been up to some great things in her post-Olympic career and I think it’s worth sharing.

Let’s start with a quick Elizabeth Manley recap for my American friends, because all Canadians should already know this stuff… 😉

Liz is a member of 5 different Hall of Fame’s (Olympic Hall of Fame, Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, Skate Canada Hall of Fame, Belleville Sports Hall of Fame, and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame).

She has won 4 World Cup Championships, 2 U.S. Open Championships and has won over 50 national and international medals.

She has also written two autobiographies, “Thumbs Up- The Elizabeth Manley Story” and “Elizabeth Manley- As I Am”

There was something else but it’s slipping my mind….. Oh Yeah!!! She won a freaking Silver Medal at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary!!

Not too shabby, right? I also forgot to mention that she has also had a Park and Arena named after her in her (our) hometown of Ottawa.

With all the great accolades and achievements, something people don’t know is that Liz battled a very severe depression that weighed on her for years. It never really goes away but these quotes from an amazing expose about her shows her strength and courage. Seriously, it’s a great piece and I encourage you to check it out!

“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. Depression was the best thing that could have happened to me. It taught me who I was. I didn’t get lost in a world of sport. I found myself through the whole experience.”

“I was bald, I was 35 pounds overweight, I was locked in a house because I didn’t want people to see me. I’ve had a nervous breakdown. I was 16 and I thought there was nothing good in life for me. Four and a half years later, I was standing on the podium and having my greatest moment. When you think your life is no good, you can change it.”

Flash Forward to today and Liz is busy helping others cope with mental illness and on top of being a spokesperson to a number of Charities and Foundations, has even started her own charity event, Elizabeth Manley & Friends, which will help raise money for teen mental health, specifically the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. In all honesty, while she was telling me all of the things she was doing to give back, I thought “How am I going to fit all of this into a post?!”. She is truly an amazing person and it shines through in her work.

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On top of all of this, Liz was kind enough to answer a few questions for my post and I am very appreciative for that. In fact, this is my first official interview, so I guess I am a journalist now, haha. Here are the results of our brief Q&A:

1. How does someone hire you as a speaker? They can contact sundance@speakers.ca or me directly (Twitter: @LizManley88).

2. Are you still doing skating events (For fun, charity or other)? I am producing my own benefit show this coming winter Jan 26 at ScotiaBank Place called Elizabeth Manley + Friends to benefit YSB and D.I.F.D. It’s still in the works and will have major stars such as Nancy Kerrigan, Elvis Stojco and more!

3. Where is your favourite place in Ottawa? The canal area!!! Soooo beautiful!

4. You have a lot of living left to do, what is your next goal? To make Elizabeth Manley & Friends a major success and a yearly event to benefit local area charities.

Stay Tuned for more info on the January 26th Elizabeth Manley & Friends benefit show at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. I’ll be reminding you about it every now and then as well and can’t wait to see the stars shining once again! In the meantime, if you are interested in sponsoring this event, you can contact Liz on Twitter or let me know and I’ll pass along your information.

Before I leave you all, I just wanted to say a HUGE Thank You to Elizabeth Manley for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk to me. It’s always great to see someone emerge from the darkness that is mental illness and want to give back so others don’t have to suffer so much. She is an amazing person and I’m proud to have been given this opportunity!

Cheers!