Path of the Olympic flame

Kamloopsians came out in droves to celebrate not only as a community, but also to applaud and support the individuals that carried the Olympic flame.

Carrying Canadian flags and banners on the sidelines, people cheered on from Valleyview to Tournament Capital Centre despite the freezing cold as they watched the torchbearers run and pass the flame to the final runner who lit the cauldron at Hillside Stadium.

But what really made the moment special were the things that weren’t heard nor seen as each torchbearer looked ahead and ran as the world watched.

Running as a torchbearer reminded Nancy Greene Raine of winning an Olympic medal for Canada. But even more so, it reminded her of something far more important: her mother.

“It’s very special,” said Greene Raine. “I did it once before in 1988 with my mother. She was ill at the time so it was one of the last neat things that we did together.”

For hockey superstar and former Olympian Mark Recchi, lighting the cauldron in Kamloops is a great way to pay tribute to the place where he was born.

“It’s an amazing thing to come home to my hometown, to get the torch from Nancy and be able to light the cauldron… this is incredible,” Recchi exclaimed at the Torch Relay Celebration. “I’ll never forget this.”

Other torchbearers were chosen by RBC and Coca-cola for their pledge to make a better Canada.

For Kamloops resident Kristy de Jong, it was a commitment to the environment. “I wrote a short paragraph about my pledge about recycling,” said the mother of two, who said her pet peeves were the bulky packaging that came with children’s toys. She said she hopes to help preserve Canada’s beauty, but was surprised that her commitment actually landed her a spot in the Torch Relay. “Initially I got an e-mail,” she said, not believing it was real. “Then I got a phone call from a lady in Toronto.”

“It’s incredible to be a part of it.”

Nanaimo resident Elijah Buffalo is a cycler. His commitment to the sport was his ticket to carrying the flame. “I may not be able to make it to a competitive level, so it’s cool to be a part of the Olympics in some kind of way.”

Torchbearer and Kamloops resident Shawn Wenger also made a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. While her husband Chris who also applied didn’t make the cut, she was more than happy to represent the entire family. Having the celebration at the Tournament Capital Centre made it even more meaningful for her. “It’s actually a very special experience tonight because I work here at the Tournament Capital Centre. I’m a personal trainer here,” said Wenger.

Members of the crowd also had their own stories. With baby Illah on her back, Cecilia Amirallik waited anxiously for the runners hoping to meet the two Inuuk torchbearers representing her indigenous group.

Angela van Denbrink and her sister Marilee Manning held a banner with “We Believe Mellisa” written in big, bold letters in support of Olympic bronze medallist Mellisa Hollingsworth, who will be competing as a skeleton racer in Whistler. Hollingsworth’s mom is a good friend of the sisters.

Kamloops resident Janice Cook has also had a part in the Olympic preparation. “I was on the original bid committee for the Olympics for B.C.” But on that night, she and her mother Jen were there to cheer on some friends who carried the torch. This included Kamloops resident and sports supporter Ross Jardine who was chosen as part of the relay at 76-years-old.

Indeed, it’s these thoughts in the mind of the torch bearers and their supporters that made the relay meaningful—thoughts that can only be known if you stop and really listen.

For a link to the Torch Relay photos, click here.

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