Older man standing beside younger woman holding plaque with key

Pembroke Mayor Mike LeMay presented Olympian Madeleine Kelly with the Key to the City. It is a very rarely given award, reserved for those who have highly distinguished themselves. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

Olympian Madeleine Kelly presented Key to City of Pembroke

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday August 26, 2021

Olympian Madeleine Kelly received the Key to the City of Pembroke for her athletic achievements.

Though she currently resides in Hamilton, she considers Pembroke her home, having grown up in the small city. She even likes to come home before every major running event, spending time with her loved ones before hitting the track.

With such strong ties to Pembroke, being recognized on Sept. 5 was a truly emotional moment for her.
“Pembroke is very much still my home,” said Kelly. “So to get an honour like this in the place I grew up is amazing.”

She, and Eganville-native Melissa Bishop-Nriagu, saw a huge outpouring of support locally, and Kelly was overwhelmed by how much people cared.

“We saw the hay bales that people put our names on, we saw the messages and the photos,” said Kelly. “Nobody could be in Japan but I certainly felt the hometown support while I was there.”

She finished the Women’s 800m with a time of 2:02.39.

“For no spectators, the stadium had some amazing energy ... There were athletes from all over the world who were competing in track and field there watching, teammates of mine were watching, there was a DJ, it was about as good as it gets for not being able to have your family and friends there,” Kelly noted.

She will return to training in about a week with the hope of making the World Championship in July.

Her former coaches Rick Schroeder from the Coureurs De Bois, and Pat Childerhose from Fellowes High School were at the ceremony to recount stories of a young Kelly just starting her athletic career. They both had the rare opportunity of seeing the now 25-year-old grow up and become the Olympic athlete she is today.

“Maddy is a talented runner that is working extremely hard to achieve great things,” said Childerhose, adding she deserves an enormous amount of credit for what she has accomplished.

Her parents Chris and Caroline Kelly also spoke about their daughter, bringing her to tears with their kind, loving words.

“We feel so fortunate that from this community, Madeleine has been afforded these opportunities,” said Caroline.

“She’s a leader in our family,” said Chris. “She’s a monument of caring.”

The Key to the City presentation occurred in front of a crowd of well-wishers at the Riverwalk Amphitheatre. Many in attendance had watched her blossom from young runner to Olympian.

“Your dedication and passion have helped you take immense strides and you continue to make your hometown proud,” said City of Pembroke Mayor Mike LeMay.

“Young people will be inspired by your dedication to the sport of track and field,” he added. “We look forward to cheering you on if you decide to head to Paris in 2024. This city and this community has always rooted for you.”

The Key to the City of Pembroke is a rare award, given to individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves. The Algonquin College Waterfront Campus in Pembroke received one in 2018 for 50 years of dedicated service, providing local post-secondary education. Toronto Maple Leafs’ Head Coach and former Pembroke Lumber Kings Sheldon Keefe also received a key in 2011.