A Dawsonville native who competed in the 2004 Winter Olympics will be one of 10 North Georgia athletes elected to the Northeast Georgia Hall of Fame in Gainesville on Aug. 29.
Charles Ryan Leveille will be honored for his contributions to speed skating. He took part in the 2004 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
This was a great accomplishment as Leveille was coming off a serious injury he sustained in a short-track race. Leveille lost his balance, breaking his back, and spent four long months in a full-body cast.
The injury was just 1 inch removed from causing complete paralysis. Eight months later he was competing again.
“It wasn’t easy,” Leveille said of returning to the ice. “I just wasn’t confident. I didn’t want to risk my life.”
After his injury Leveille contemplated retiring from the sport. He moved to Knoxville to enroll at the University of Tennessee.
His former coach, Tony Goscowitz, convinced Leveille to come to Milwaukee and train for the long-distance speed skating event.
In the United States Championships in 2004 Leveille earned a bronze metal in the 500 meters and 3000 meters.
After competing in long track for just a few months, Leveille finished 10th overall at the 2005 U.S. Championships and qualified for the 2006 Fall World Cup Team.
He earned a silver in the 10,000 meters and ranked third in the men’s all-round standings at the 2006 U.S. Championships.
As part of the US World Championship team in Gangneung, South Korea, in March of 2008 Leveille won a bronze medal in the 1500 meters race, as well as a silver medal in the 3000-meter superfinal.
Still living in Milwaukee and training, Leveille won’t be able to attend the ceremony. He’s gotten over his fear of the short track, and even defeated Apollo Anton Ohno during the 2007 World Championships.
He hopes his training will lead him back to the Olympics in both the short track and long track competitions. Leveille is training for the U.S. Short Track Speedskating Trials in September and long-track trials in October.
What he does know is that this will be his last season skating. Whether he qualifies for the Olympics or not, he plans to retire and move back to Dawsonville.
Leveille was completely surprised about his induction. “I didn’t even realize it was happening,” he said. “It’s a huge honor and was unexpected. I’m really happy to be from that area and the honor makes me speechless.”
The Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame is located in the Northeast Georgia History Center on the campus of Brenau University.
Guest speaker for the luncheon will be University of Georgia and former Gainesville High School star Damon Evans. Evans will help honor 15 Northeast Georgia Athletes and one successful team.
Leveille will part of the “Elite 10” athletes at the luncheon which will begin at 11:30 a.m.
Table sponsorships are available for $350, and table sponsors may choose to have their table host one of the athletes to be recognized on a first-come, first-served basis.
A limited number of individual tickets are available for $25. For reservations, call the history center at (770) 297-5900.