The giant joint, erm Olympic Torch, recently passed through my ‘hood. This was but one stop on the 106 day 45,000 National Relay to the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Around 260 people will run 48K (300 metres at a time, which seems an odd distance) with the torch through the streets of the GTA. Among the runners is Murray Dowey, 1948 Olympic Gold Medalist in hockey and retired TTC employee. His torchbearing segment was to include a ride on the iconic TTC streetcar (holding the flame out the window, lest the iconic streetcar go up in smoke) but a detour to avoid the protesters reportedly foiled this plan (I can’t confirm the reports; I wasn’t there). The story of his eleventh-hour call to an already last-minute ragtag team of underdogs (The Royal Canadian Airforce Flyers) that won Olympic gold makes me nostalgic for an Olympic games of big hopes without the big sponsorships.
Dowey is not the only celebrity who took a hit from the flame. Not to worry, they didn’t inhale. Former Olympians (should I say former? Once an Olympian always an Olympian?) Marnie McBean, Brian Orser, and Vicky Sunohara, ballerina Karen Kain, astronaut Roberta Bondar, filmmakers Ivan and Jason Reitman, director Deepa Mehta, and Bollywood star Akshay Kumarall all joined the red carpet relay around town. I wonder if they needed to submit an application to coca-cola?
My running group planned a run that, if the timing worked out, would have us crossing paths with the famous flame. As we ran along the torch route in our matching run club outfits tens of people went mad with excitement thinking we were the torch-relayers. Low-key torch runners without the patriotic red and white uniforms, police escort, or live-action commercial disguised as a parade. Cries of “where’s the torch”, “WHERE’S THE TORCH” echoed as we dashed by on the sidewalk. The torch, as it turns out, was delayed by an hour due to protesting and, I suspect, a stop to satisfy those munchies.
Title Reference: Whitney Houston – One Moment in Time. From the album One Moment in Time: 1988 Summer Olympics Album. 1988.