Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Olympian signs on with Crown corp. for new gig

Program benefits community groups

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Janine Hanson has traded in her oars for a bottle of whiskey and a stack of chips.

That's an exaggeration, of course, but Hanson, a silver medallist in the women's eights rowing event at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, is now out of the water and serving as the new ambassador for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corp. IMPACT Team, a community-outreach program designed to connect the Crown corporation's funding initiatives and the organizations that benefit from them.

The 30-year-old Winnipeg resident said there wasn't an internal struggle regarding her status as an Olympian and the promotion of alcohol and gambling -- two lifestyle choices not typically associated with a world-class athlete.

From her perspective, the corporation has been instrumental in helping her reach her dream.

"I had so much support from Manitoba getting me to the Olympics twice, and liquor and lotteries has been a sponsor of amateur sport for years," Hanson said prior to participating in the Winnipeg Wine Festival's media grape stomp Wednesday evening.

"They've (MLLC) given back so much to communities through sport -- Sport Manitoba being one of them.

"As an athlete having gone through multiple programs through Sport Manitoba, I was directly sponsored from Manitoba Lotteries at the time."

The province merged Manitoba Lotteries with the Manitoba Liquor Commission in the 2012 budget.

Manitoba Lotteries dished out $5.8 million to non-profit community groups in 2010-11, providing assistance to various charity sport events such as the 55-Plus Games, Bike to Work Day and the MS Walk. The corporation also supports higher-profile sporting ventures, such as the Winnipeg Jets, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Winnipeg Goldeyes and the Manitoba Marathon.

Now retired from competitive rowing, Hanson's duties for the MLLC should still keep her active. She's scheduled to appear in about a dozen events in and around Winnipeg this summer, and believes she can serve as role model for young athletes looking for a life in amateur sport.

"Hopefully, I can inspire youth to go after their dreams and work hard for what they want to do," she said.

Hanson is the latest Manitoba-raised Olympian to move into an ambassador position for a company or organization.

Speed skating star Cindy Klassen slid into a spokeswoman role with MTS Allstream following her success at the 2006 Winter Games; cyclist Clara Hughes continues to discuss mental-health issues through Bell's Let's Talk program; and Russell's Jon Montgomery parlayed his Olympic skeleton gold in Vancouver (2010) into ambassador work for Ducks Unlimited Canada.

 

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2013 A11

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