But the fact of the matter is: I’m a sucker for the Olympic Games.
I love watching athletes from all over the world come together. There’s a glow about them. They’re filled with hope and promise, you can see it in their eyes. You can feel the pride on the face of the flag bearers. And the smiles on the faces of the athletes as they take part in the Parade of Nations is infectious.
My friend Tez's niece, Tamara Oudenaarden - first time Olympian
Long track speed skating
I love the anticipation during that moment before the puck drops, the bell rings, a whistle blows, a figure skater’s music starts. It’s the moment of promise.
Yesterday, I sat at home, waiting for a light from my grandfather’s homeland, Greece, to make its way to the big cauldron of the opening ceremony. There were sweet magical moments, as every day people ran through the streets of Vancouver, on that last day of the flame’s journey. A journey my daughter and I were blessed to have witnessed when, on it’s over 45,000 km cross-Canada trek, the flame was lit in our own community cauldron by a hometown Summer Olympian.
I cried tears of hope and pride, and remembrance, as Terry Fox’s dad, Rolly Fox received the flame from a cancer survivor. My heart swelled and tears flowed as I watched the quintessential hockey dad, Walter Gretzky, hold that torch high and run while people chanted “Go Canada” and afterwards he lead the crowd as they broke into a touching and genuine rendition of “Oh Canada”.
My heart broke when a reporter for CTV informed us of the tragic luge accident that would claim the life of a young Georgian Olympian who that night should have been with his team mates, taking in a moment that no athlete ever forgets, that moment when you get to walk behind your flag as the crowd cheers you on. Nodar Kumaritashvili’s passing reminded us of just how fragile life is and how living to the fullest is the only option.
His team mates chose to honour him and to embody the very spirit of the Olympics by marching in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Georgia's Minister of Culture and Sport, Nikolos Rurua, said the Georgian team would "dedicate their performances to their fallen comrade.". I don't think there was a dry eye in the place when the Georgian team entered the stadium.
As a Canadian, I will always remember them and I will keep them in my heart forever. As a Canadian, I nod in direction of the organizers who had both the Olympic and Canadian flags flying at half –mast as the ceremonies were dedicated to Nodar’s memory.
I was moved by John Furlong's words as he addressed the athletes and coaches: "may you carry his Olympic dream on your shoulders and compete with his spirit in your heart.".
I am immensely proud of my country. We have welcomed the world to our backyard and demonstrated what makes this country great: the warmth and resolve of its people. This swelling pride is extended to all the athletes present at the games. When faced with tragedy, all rose up and found a way to move on. Tragedy need not define these Games, in the words of slam poet Shane Koyczan : “we live to get past the experiences we go through”.
“We are an experiment going right for a change.”