John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee said, “As it nears its final destination, we want
everyone to share the pride and surprise of the moment and as the
identity of the final torch bearer is revealed.”
The host country makes a statement about itself, its accomplishments and its ideals by the choice of the person who lights the Olympic flame.
the 1928 Summer
Games in Amsterdam, former star athletes have usually been the final
torchbearers. Norway chose Crown Prince Haakon of Norway for the Lilliehamer games, as both his father and grandfather took part in the Olympics.
Canada's choice at Montreal 1976 and Calgary 1988 featured teenagers and a tweener. In Montreal Summer Games, Sandra Henderson, 15, of Toronto, and Stephane Prefontaine,
16, of Montreal, were to symbolize Canadian unity. In Calgary Winter Games Robyn
Perry, 12, a junior figure skater, was chosen to represent youth and
The Star in Toronto has named some suggestions:
The Star listed many British Columbians as the potential last torch bearer:
Nancy Greene of Rossland, B.C., who won ski gold and silver at the 1968
Games in Grenoble
Kerrin Lee-Gartner of Trail, won gold downhill skiing in Albertville in 1992,
Karen Magnussen (North Vancouver), won silver in women's figure skating 1972
Rick Hansen of Williams Lake, B.C. (now Greater Vancouver), a Paralympic gold medallist
and tireless champion of those with spinal cord injuries, known world wide for his 1986/87 Man in Motion Tour.
Joe Sakic, of Burnaby who starred on
the 2002 gold medal-winning hockey team,
Non athletes include Betty Fox, mother of the late Terry Fox of Port
Coquitlam, B.C., who has been the subject of online petitions and facebook groups.
the best friend of Terry Fox, who accompanied him from the start of the Marathon in Newfound Land and every step until the end of the aborted run.
Other Canadians include:
Gretzky, an ex-Olympian and architect of that 2002 squad, might be
considered candidates, as could superdad Walter Gretzky.
Canada's most-decorated Olympian with six medals for speed skating
Gaetan Boucher, who won four
Games' medals for speed skating
Clara Hughes, who won medals at the Winter and Summer Games. Cycling Bronze at Atlanta 96 + Speed skating Bronze at Salt Lake City 2002 + 5 medals including Gold at Turin 2006
Bailey gold in the men's
100-metre and 4 by 100-metre relay at the 1996 games in Atlanta.
Scott, 1948 Olympic figure skating champion
Kurt Browning Four-time men's world champion figure skater Kurt Browning who never won an Olympic medal.
Rick Hansen on the Great Wall of China in 1986
I value the wonderful community work that both Terry Fox's mother Betty and brother Darrell have done for continuing to carry the flag for the Terry Fox Run, encouraging runs all across communities in Canada and more than 60 runs in 28 countries around the world. I speak at Terry Fox Runs and elementary schools
every year, since 1993, when Darrell Fox asked me to become a Terry's
Team member. In 1993, I was a featured speaker at the Terry Fox Run press conference with Rick Hansen. Rick has always talked about his friendship with Terry, and how Terry's Marathon of Hope inspired his Man in Motion tour.
While I believe that Betty Fox, Darrell Fox and Doug Alward would be great people to carry
the torch during the relay, I don't think they qualify as athletic
achievers – which is the usual lighter of the torch around the world.
Think Muhammad Ali in 96, and so….
My favorite is Rick Hansen.
Rick is an internationally known figure, famous for his two year long world Man in Motion Tour from March 1985, through 26-months, 40,000 km through 34 countries, four continents, until returning to Vancouver on May 22, 1987 at BC Place Stadium – the very same site that will be used for the Vancouver 2010 Opening and Closing ceremonies. What separates Rick from the other former Olympic athletes and medal winners, is his humanitarian values, as the founder of The Rick Hansen Foundation, and as a long time activist for people with disabilities and people with spinal cord injuries. He has recieved the Order of BC, Companion to the Order of Canada, many honours such as Athlete of the Year, and many many honourary doctorate degrees, and has been inducted to both the BC Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
And remember the media reaction to Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan in his wheel chair receiving the Olympic Flag at the Closing ceremonies in Turin 2006? Incredible!
It will send a message to the world of value and inclusivity about people with disabilities. This is a Canadian value that we appreciate.