By Clare Ogilvie
He has been named one of the top 50 people of power in B.C. by Vancouver Magazine and the Globe and Mail has named him one of the top 25 people who most influenced sport in 2006. But if you ask John Furlong how he would like to be thought of he would likely answer you that it would be as someone who has made a difference in creating a human legacy from the Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in Vancouver and Whistler from Feb 12 to 28, 2010.
As CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee Furlong must answer the hard questions all year and keep his eye on the goal. This week Pique Newsmagazine chatted with him, as he looked back over 2006 and forward to 2007.
Pique: 2006 was a significant year for VANOC. Can you tell
us about some of the milestones organizers passed and what you remember most?
John Furlong: We could go back and talk about 2006 for a long time.
The most revealing moments for me were human ones. You are doing this work every day and your head is down and you are solving problems and then something happens again and again and you are reminded about why you started in the first place.
Two examples that come to mind: I was walking in Pacific Centre mall a couple of months ago, I was keeping to myself, and suddenly I was standing in front of this mother and her daughter, and this little girl was telling me that she was keeping this scrap book on the Olympics and that she had been building it for three years. She was keeping her own history of the project and cutting things out of the papers everyday. While she has been doing that she has also been developing this plan where she is raising money through doing the shopping and cutting grass for family and neighbours and working whichever way she can to make money so she can buy a ticket to go to every single sport at the Games one time.
I am looking at this little girl, she is about 10 or 11, and I realize that everyone is watching and there are hopes and dreams in every home and everyone has got this sense that something pretty extraordinary is coming and they want to be a part of it.