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Canada Day stirs memories for Furlong

Spirit, pride that emerged during Games can be celebrated again

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The 2010 Games and Canada Day will forever be linked for John Furlong, long-serving leader of the organization that put on the Olympics and Paralympics.

For on July 2, 2003 he and his team not only made their final presentation in Prague before the International Olympic Committee arguing that Vancouver and Whistler should host the 2010 Games, they won them.

"The memories are just two powerful and I don't ever want them to slip away," said Furlong of those moments in Prague.

"On Canada Day seven years ago we had gathered in Prague and as people here were wrapping up Canada Day we were already standing outside the hall in Prague preparing to make our final presentation.

"It is very special time of year for me, and for us I think.

"...Coming out of the Games I think we will see a lot of Olympic references across the country and I think people want to come outside and re-celebrate and re-enjoy what they found during the Games."

Furlong plans to celebrate the nation's birthday in Vancouver.

The 2010 Olympic cauldron, overlooking Coal Harbour, will be re-lit Thursday.

Whistler will be celebrating Canada Day over the weekend as well, part of a plan to leverage the celebration, a planning tool oft seen during the Games.

Whistler's planning and decision to stick to its vision as a resort may well have defined how it hosted the Games said Furlong, but it will be remembered for the amazing show of support it offered the world and the athletes in February and March.

"I think the coming out that happened in Whistler was remarkable and I think for everybody there... they became a convert and got wrapped up in the spirit and I think it left people gasping and wanting more," said Furlong.

"One of the most wonderful things for me personally was watching the athletes walk along the village to the (Celebration Plaza) and seeing the crowd on both sides. They were like an honour guard for the athletes, and I think the town really came out and showed itself with great class and style. If you were not happy that day I don't know what a person would have to do to make you happy."

Furlong believes Canada Day may never be the same after the success of the Games and the surprising and uplifting way Canadians embraced them.

"I think Canadians have found something; they have found that being a little bit more strident and confident felt good and I think as a country we came out of the Games a little different than we went in and I think that has got to be good for Canada going forward," said Furlong, who recently returned from both Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Games, and London, host of the 2012 Summer Games.

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