Throughout his distinguished and unparalleled career as a mixed martial athlete, Georges St-Pierre was often in a class of his own.
Thursday, he officially joined a hall of fame class as a recipient of the Order of Sport, Canada’s highest honor.
Nine athletes and two builders were rightfully acknowledged, featuring the UFC fighter, wheelchair basketball athlete Danielle Peers, Indigenous softball player Phyllis Bomberry and curling’s Team Ferbey – Randy Ferbey, David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque.
In addition, the 2023 class also featured Olympic figure skating champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, considered among the greatest ice dancing duos in the sport’s history following a career that saw them win Olympic gold in the event at Vancouver 2010 and Pyeongchang 2018.
Indigenous lacrosse advocate Oren Lyons and high performance judo coach Hiroshi Nakamura were each recognized as builders.
The inductees gathered in Gatineau, Que., respective trailblazers and leaders who were also known for their contributions to the community.
In typical GSP fashion, there was no prepared speech, preferring to freelance in thanking the many individuals who helped guide, nurture and inspire his amazing run.
The latest Order of Sport class was selected from more than 200 public nominations and by a committee comprised of sports broadcasters, writers, academics and athletes.
The focus was placed on a recipient’s ability to lead and inspire both on and off the field of play, for their sports accomplishments and in recognition of their continuing role in building Canada through sport and the value they return to their communities.
“Fantastic,’’ enthused GSP over a phone interview when asked how his day had unfolded. “I’m very honored and thankful to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. I’m glad to here.”
The moment wasn’t on lost on GSP as he fully embraced the magnitude of reaching such a status, without doubt the highest level one can attain.
His exploits are well documented, but in such a moment when careers are revisited, when athletic conquests are retold, it brought even more joy and appreciation.
“For sure it’s another one,’’ continued GSP, noting the latest feather in his expansive sporting cap. “I’m just very happy and feel very privileged to be here.”
Like any high-end athlete from whatever field of endeavor, GSP didn’t spend any time thinking of such a prestigious honor when he was in the battle of combat.
“At the time I was competing, I didn’t have time to reflect,’’ he added. “I was too stressed, in the middle of preparation, feeling very busy.
“But now, it’s fun to look back and see it from a different perspective. I feel very happy.”
Happy was the operative word for GSP Thursday, as it should be.
He was also reflective and grateful, while at the same time feeling blessed and appreciative.
GSP becomes the first UFC athlete to be recognized and he’s also the first mixed martial artist to receive the Order of Sport.
A UFC welterweight and middleweight champion, the man known for his three-initial name became a household name whose feats of athleticism helped usher in a new generation.
“When you’re competing you never think that much ahead of time,’’ said GSP. “But now that I’m in this position I can look back at things. I’m just very honored, very happy.
“This would not have been possible without everybody. I had such a strong team behind me. This is an opportunity for me to thank all the people who were behind me.”
Receiving the Order of Sport was also an opportunity for GSP to meet and chat with his fellow 2023 classmates.
“It’s a lot of fun because you’re around people from other disciplines,’’ he continued.
GSP had a particularly enjoyable conversation with “Sensei” Nakamura, an icon of Canadian judo.
Nakamura was added to the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2019.
One of Nakamura’s pupils was Nicolas Gill.
The goal for GSP when accepting the Order of Sport was simple.
“Look as good as possible,’’ he joked.
In terms of speech writing, the words GSP was hopeful to express during his acceptance all originated from the heart.
“I’m going to freestyle. I’ve always been better when I speak with my heart.”
During his fighting days, GSP kept busy.
“I’m even more busy now,’’ he confided.
Projects aimed to stimulate brain function have kept GSP pre-occupied.
He just wrapped up work on a movie set as a thespian for a Netlix production scheduled to air at the end of next year.
GSP is also involved in food supplement and he also owns a home fitness company.
He even has a Vodka line that was recently unveiled with plans to take it to the United States and as far away as Thailand.
There’s also an online betting company that keeps GSP occupied, not to mention instructional videos he launched earlier in the week.
“I’m very busy,’’ GSP said in a mild understatement. “I don’t twiddle my thumb.”
One would think there aren’t enough hours in the day to manage and survive such a schedule, but GSP wouldn’t want it any other way.
“That’s what I like the most,’’ he said. “Which is to say I like being busy. When you’re busy your brain stays stimulated and you stay young.”