The missing legacy
Dear Community Members:
The fate of our communitys support for the 2010 Olympic Bid will be decided Monday night by Council. The Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation has been working to ensure that what is presented to the International Olympic Committee is the best scenario for all people involved: the athletes, the host communities, the host country and all those people who are touched by the Games.
There is one aspect of an Olympic Games Winter, Summer or Paralympic that seems to have escaped the media and vocal community members so far in this bid process: It is a benefit that extends far beyond those directly involved in an Olympic event and it impacts people in a way that no other event can.
When I was seven years old, I was beginning what was to be a lengthy competitive gymnastics career and at the time I had no real understanding of what that meant. This was at about the same time that I learned what participation at an international level could mean and how I could shape my dreams and goals. It was at that point that I was touched by the Olympic spirit in the form of an Olympian who came to teach proper running technique to me and my gymnastics team-mates.
I was given the opportunity to understand what kind of a person I could become through sport and international competition. A person who works hard, strives for what I believe in, believes in fairness, is gracious and supportive, recognizes the efforts of those around me and the challenges that each of us must endure. I was given a role model who possessed these traits and who had succeeded by being true to herself. This role model is what the Olympic dream is about. It is the by-product of an Olympic Games and is in fact, the basis of Olympism.
I never achieved Olympic level competition although I did benefit from the path towards it. Not reaching the summit does not stop my desire to have this experience/path touch others and benefit my community. I carry with me everyday the characteristics that were shown to me as a child and that affect everything I do. And it only took half an hour with somebody who exemplified similar traits.
Having attended the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games, I was struck by the overwhelming positive feelings within the host communities. Never have I seen a friendlier place that a host city during a multi-sport games. I was able to stay with a local family during my time in Salt Lake and discuss with them at length the emotions and economics that the residents experienced during the bid process, organization and actual event. I maintain contact with this family and they continue to tell me that it was the greatest experience of their lives and they are so happy that their children could be a part of it. They learned about people from around the world and I believe, they are now all touched by that spirit and live "Olympism".