Before the opening ceremonies exceeded even my loftiest expectations and before Frederic Bilodeau and the rest of Canada got to celebrate his little brother’s gold medal, Canada’s first at an Olympics on home soil, my week was already wrapped up in Olympic celebrations. It’s been a lot of fun.
First, last Wednesday, my dad got to carry the Olympic torch for a leg of the relay in West Vancouver. We all drove up to watch him go past. It was a miserable day, pouring rain and chilly, but the rain stopped just long enough for us to stand out on the sidewalk for an hour, waiting. The skies opened again just as he finished and passed the flame to the next runner. Good timing for us from Mother Nature. I think the best part was watching his face; he clearly enjoyed the experience, and that made it pretty special.
And then Friday, my daughter participated in the Richmond Olympic Choir, kicking off the opening celebrations at the Richmond O-Zone. The combined band and choir, made up of school students, numbered about 3500. It was something to behold. When I dropped her and a friend off at the security point, the street and parking lot were a mass of kids in matching outfits. At the fire hall next door, the firemen stood outside their building, grinning at all the kids going by. The sheer number of kids was impressive and gave a real feeling of community that was really wonderful.
During the actual performance, the crowds made it difficult to get photos or video, but this clip from the dress rehearsal gives a sense of the scale of the choir. At one point, the camera pans left and shows the choir stretching across the field. The same was true to the right of the camera position.
And then it was on to the actual Olympics. I’m a fan of the games. They have their negatives, sure, the cost and the commercialization chief among them. But there’s something magical about so many athletes from so many nations coming together in primarily good sportsmanship to fulfil, in many cases, a childhood dream. I love watching the intensity and sheer athleticism of the athletes, the joy when things go as well – or better – than they could ever have hoped, and even the heartbreak when they fail. But most of all, I love the stories behind the athletes, and there’s never any shortage of good ones.
Speaking of stories, I loved the opening ceremonies, which I think did a beautiful job of telling a story about Canada. I saw my Canada in it, and everyone else I’ve talked to about it did, too. It was great. One of the best parts to me was Shane Koyzcan, the slam poet, talking about what it is to be Canadian. The video quality here is poor, but just in case you missed it: