Grant Connell of West Vancouver, a former world doubles champion and star of Canada’s Davis Cup men’s national tennis team, is joining Steve Nash of NBA basketball, former hockey star Trevor Linden and former Olympic rower Silken Laumann as a member of the Athlete Advisory Board of the MultiSport Centre of Excellence Foundation, the not-for-profit charitable organization which is building its $54 million flagship athlete development centre next to 8 Rinks in the Central Valley sports hub in Burnaby.
Connell, a prominent realtor for Sotheby’s International Realty, joins the impressive list of athlete advisors the same day that former Olympic rower and Canadian Olympic Committee vice-president Tricia Smith and health care trailblazer Dr. Brian Day signed on as advisers to the Foundation chaired by Vancouver mining executive Scott Cousens of Hunter Dickinson International. Smith, who is also a new member of the Board of Directors of Own The Podium, joins Peter Bentley and Ron Thiessen of Vancouver on the Business Advisory Board while Dr. Day, a former President of the Canadian Medical Association, joins the Medical Advisory Board alongside Dr. Jack Taunton, Rick Celebrini and Lynda Cannell, all of Vancouver.
Yet another sport medical icon, Dr. Doug Clement of Vancouver, was named last week as a global ambassador of the MultiSport Foundation.
“Grant Connell has had success as an athlete, a coach, an executive and as a tournament director in tennis,” noted Loyal Makaroff of Vancouver, the President and CEO of the MultiSport Centre of Excellence Foundation. “It’s that kind of 360 degree experience and track record in sport which gives him such a unique standing among Canadian sports personalities and which allows him to bring so much to the table as part of our Athlete Advisory Board.”
Connell is best known for spending most of the 1990s as one of the top men’s doubles players in the world. He made Grand Slam championship final appearances with three different partners, including fellow Canadian Glenn Michibata of Toronto. Connell and Michibata, who had already been inducted into the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame last decade, were named this summer to the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame in an on-court ceremony at Rexall Centre at York University.
The lefthander reached the Wimbledon doubles finals three times, once with Michibata, once with Patrick Galbraith and once with Byron Black. He won the ATP Tour World Doubles championship with Galbraith in 1995. He also made the finals of the French Open and Australian Open and won a total of 22 ATP Tour doubles titles in a pro career which spanned 1986-1997 and featured a starring role on Canada’s Davis Cup team. Connell also represented Canada in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Smith, who has distinguished herself with sport system service in a number of the most important roles in Canadian sport, becomes the sixth Olympian to become an adviser of the MultiSport Foundation, which is slated to resume construction on its state-of-the-art facility in early 2011. She won medals at seven world championships, a gold at the Commonwealth Games and a silver at the 1984 Olympics, one of four in which she represented Canada. Smith, a widely-respected Vancouver lawyer, is a member of the UBC Sports Hall of Fame and BC Sports Hall of Fame.
Dr. Day, one of Canada’s highest-profile orthopaedic surgeons, is the primary architect of such medical innovations as Cambie Surgery Centre, of which he is President and CEO, and the Specialist Referral Clinic. Past-President of the Arthroscopy Association of North America and member of the Scientific Committee of the European Society of Sports Traumatology, Dr. Day is considered one of the most influential leaders in the Canadian medical system as it strives to keep pace with the demand of an aging population.
“The seamless integration of sport medicine, sport science and sport training that will be facilitated by the facility we are building in the Central Valley sports complex in Burnaby has been inspired by consultations with athletes, coaches and sport medical leaders,” said Makaroff. “We fully appreciate how important the advice and leadership of our advisory board members is to the project we’re funding, especially when one considers the expertise and experience we have in the best athletes like Grant Connell, the most innovative medical leaders like Dr. Brian Day and the most committed business and community leaders like Tricia Smith.”
The MultiSport Centre of Excellence Foundation is a sport sciences foundation and registered charity inspired to collaborate with like-minded organizations and individuals who recognized the power of sport to transform lives. Its mission is to fund and support world-class sport medicine and science resources, including collaborative research, education, programs and facilities.