This is a very big deal and while there are many, many people here in British Columbia who don’t like the Olympics and wish they had never been brought here, the torch celebration is something we should all get behind and support. Cynics deride the Olympics because they have been highly commercialized and more and more professional athletes — not the amateurs most people think the Olympics should really celebrate — seem to be appearing in them.
This Torch relay, however, is the one opportunity that ordinary people and true amateurs will have to play a role in the Olympic pageant. This is the closest most of us will ever get to touching one of the great human symbols: the sacred flame kindled at Olympia, Greece, then carried half-way round the world to inaugurate another round of Games.
The ordinary people in our case are these: Annie Woodhurst, Lynne Welock, Carl Rankin, Josee Zimanyi and Lachlan Hicks, the teenager who will carry the sacred flame its last 300 metres to the cauldron that awaits it. There may be a couple of others. Rosetta Bernava is carrying the torch in Malakwa and there may be one or two others but who they may be is difficult to determine. Members of the local organizing committee knew about Hicks, Rankin and Welock but not about Woodhurst, Zimanyi or Bernava. As for the Torch Relay, organizers they have 11 people running in Revelstoke on Tuesday and six on Wednesday but only two on each day are local people. And even their list of runners doesn’t tell you what communities individual runners are from.
At a Torch Relay briefing for the local media held at the City Council Chambers on Sunday afternoon, Aaron Orlando of The Times Review and I were shown a torch, the route and a final schedule for Tuesday’s events. The only deviation from the previously published schedule is a change to the time that Hicks will light the cauldron. This event is tightly choreographed and Hicks will arrive at the main stage and light the cauldron at exactly 7 pm.
This event is as much a celebration of the spirit of our community as it is the Olympic spirit. Of the 1,037 communities through which the torch is passing on its 106-day journey across Canada to Vancouver, only 189 are “celebration communities” — those places where major celebrations are planned. Ours is one of those celebration communities and for a few hours the focus of national — even international — attention will be on us. We should all plan on attending this once-in-a-lifetime event. There will be lots of local community activities downtown starting at 4 pm followed by the official ceremonies.
For the torchbearers, their opportunity to carry the flame for 300 metres (that’s the distance allocated each bearer) is magical.
For Carl Rankin, this is as close as he’ll ever get to fulfilling his youthful dreams of competing in the Olympics.
“I was a wrestler,” said the local Sotheby’s International Realty representative who will be the first Revelstokian to carry the torch towards its destination in town. “You’d never believe it now but once I weighed in at 248 pounds.”
For Lynne Welock and Annie Woodhurst, this is the culmination of a friendship that was kindled when Welock, the Royal Bank’s local branch manager, joined Woodhurst’s Running Club a few years ago.
“We became fast friends,” Welock said. “We run together three days a week. If not for Annie I would not have regained my connection to running and improved my personal condition.”
Woodhurst feels humbled and honoured to have been selected to carry the torch when it leaves the city. The schedule calls for it to leave Mount Begbie School at 7:20 am. It will arrive at the Railway Museum at 7:34 where it will be carried aboard a special Canadian Pacific Railway train that will carry it to Craigallechie. Once there, CPR CEO Fred Green will oversee a special ceremony at the site of the last spike. It will then go on to Salmon Arm and Kamloops.
“This means a very great deal to me,” she said, adding that being able to to do this with her friend — the two women will be carrying the torch on it way out of town — makes this a moment she will forever treasure.
Josee Zimanyi, co-owner of the Modern Bakery, is no stranger to the Olympics having been one of the official chefs attached to the Canadian Biathlon Team at the Turin Games. While she won’t be carrying the torch here in Revelstoke — she was selected to carry it in Salmon Arm — “it’s not every day you get to do this,” she said.
And lastly, of the six known Revelstoke torchbearers, Lachlan Hicks will have the honour of carrying it the last 300 metres along Mackenzie Avenue to the main stage at Second Street where he will ignite the cauldron. This teen-aged athlete and excellent student is clearly excited. Ask him about the moment that awaits him and you can see his eyes gleam. But it’s a humbling moment, too, and he seems aware of that. “All I can do is my very best,” he said.
We are sure you will and I think it’s fair to say that Revelstoke is proud of each and every one of you.
Here are images of the route map and the schedule. You may click on them to access larger, PDF-format copies should you wish to print them off.