I was an Olympic gymnastic athlete in 1976. I wore my black leotard and performed a near perfect floor routine but my real talent was on the uneven bars. I could fly around the bars, chalk dust puffing into the air with every grab. People all over the world would hold their breath, gasp and then burst into applause at my incredible dismounts. Yes, it was glorious to stand on the peak of the podium with my bouquet of flowers and bow to accept another gold medal around my neck. Ahhh…it’s wonderful to have an imagination when you are a kid isn’t it? The Olympic spirit caught me back in the 70’s when I watched my first summer Olympics. I was in gymnastics at the time and so I’d run in and change into my leotard when I got home from school before I turned on the tv to watch. I tried to imitate what I saw which must have looked pretty strange without the actual equipment, but I loved it! The Olympics were in Montreal and I was a homesick Canadian living in Australia then. I had just been bitten by a love for gymnastics and this was none other than the year Nadia Comeneci obtained a perfect score…on the uneven bars…my favourite apparatus!
I guess I peaked early though because my career in gymnastics kind of fizzled after that, but I still always loved watching the Olympics. In recent years the excitement around the games took on a whole new meaning for me when my husbands company, Sitka Log Homes, was chosen to build three lodges for the Salt Lake City winter Olympics. The biggest thrill came when we were hired to build a log house to send to Turino, Italy for the last winter Olympics in 2006. It was used to promote our own upcoming winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler and as meeting place for all the Canadian athletes competing in Italy.
Today, I am extremely proud to have the opportunity to feel the Olympic spirit first hand in my own community. I’m a volunteer at the flame lighting ceremony here in Vernon. My job, apparently, is to protect the ice castle that has been created in the park for the ceremony. I knew all those years of karate and various martial arts would come in handy! Beware children…I know some moves and I’m not afraid to use them.
When I see that Olympic torch come jogging into my community I know my heart will swell with pride for our Canadian athletes and for our home province who, I have no doubt, will put on a great show and make all Canadians proud. Now just let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!