• By: Keith Whittier

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Elizabeth Manley

In honour of the recent Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame 2014 Induction Celebrations presented by Canadian Tire on October 22, OLM will be featuring inductees—recent and historic—in a weekly Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile piece.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame aims to share the stories and achievements of Honoured Members to inspire Canadians in all aspects of life.

Elizabeth Manley: Athlete, Figure Skater & Advocate

For Elizabeth Manley, the dream of becoming an Olympian in the demanding sport of figure skating did not come without serious hardships.

She trained relentlessly for much of her childhood at the expense of a ‘normal life’ and found herself battling unbearable mental health issues. Her desire to be the best took its toll. Eventually, she made the unthinkable choice to quit figure skating.

She was diagnosed as clinically depressed at the young age of 17. But Manley’s admirable inner strength guided her through the challenges of seeking help at a time when mental health was shunned from the public eye. She succeeded with flying colours and returned to the sport she adored, bringing home the silver medal for Canada at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.

“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 was 17 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,” Manley says.

Instead of hiding her personal challenges, Manley made her depression public in hopes of helping others struggling with mental illness. On top of being a spokesperson for a number of charities, Elizabeth created her own benefit event, Elizabeth Manley & Friends, which helps raise funds for teen mental health.

Elizabeth Manley has had an extraordinary career. Her 50 national and international achievements in figure skating, bravery in enduring severe depression and passion for raising awareness of mental illness makes her a true Canadian hero.