From Habs great to judo coach, 91 people to receive Order of Canada
Published Tuesday, January 1, 2013 4:45PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 1, 2013 5:52PM EST
MONTREAL—As he looks upon the countless awards mounted on his wall, LaSalle’s Hiroshi Nakamura is about to receive the highest honour in Canada, but he still hasn't decided where he will put it.
“Maybe I’ll put it in a bank, in a safety deposit box,” the judo master said with a laugh.
For over 40 years, Nakamura dedicated his life to judo, coaching many athletes at his Montreal club, including five of Canada’s Olympic teams.
At the end of 2012, the governor general's office released a list of new inductees for the Order of Canada. A total of 91 people from across the country will be honoured, among them are 18 Quebecers.
When Nakamura got the call, he was shocked.
“It’s a great honour, but also I think…me? You know?”
Sharing the sentiment is fellow Quebecer Daniele Sauvageau, who is also on the list of inductees. The Deux-Montagnes native coached the Canada’s Olympic women's hockey team to gold in 2002, and continues to work closely with the team.
“At first I was like, is this real? Is this real? I wasn't expecting it, but of course it is a great honour,” said Sauvageau, who said the honour came very close to winning Olympic gold.
“We cannot compare the two, I think they're great honours and obviously if I could wear both around my neck I would.”
Joining Sauvageau from the hockey world is hockey great and former Hab Ken Dryden. Charbonneau inquiry co-commissioner Roderick A. Macdonald will also be made an officer of the order, joined by veteran journalist Michael Enright.
All 91 people are being recognized for a lifetime of outstanding achievement.
At 70-years-old, Nakamura is showing no signs of slowing down.
“I'm 70, it’s maybe a bit too early to receive this and I don't know what next step I will make,” said Nakamura.
The new crop of recipients will be presented with their honour at a ceremony at Rideau Hall sometime in the New Year.