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Spirit of 2010 Tour shares Olympic dreams


After almost two months on the road, a group of B.C. athletes wrapped up the Alcan Spirit of 2010 Tour in Whistler with appearances at the Royal Bank and Myrtle Philip Community School Wednesday. The journey covered Vancouver Island, northern communities, the Interior, the Okanagan, the Kootenays, and the Lower Mainland.

During the tour, the athletes spoke to students, adults and community groups about the 2010 Olympic Bid, clearing up misconceptions and letting people know how they can be involved.

"The purpose of the tour was to generate awareness and excitement about the Olympic bid," said tour co-ordinator Brock Turner.

"The media hasn’t painted the bid very well. Our job was to help straighten out the myths that exist out there, talk about issues, the financial aspects."

According to Turner, the biggest myth was that the planned upgrade to the Sea to Sky Highway is an Olympic initiative.

"It’s not the bid’s decision, but the Ministry of Transportation," he said. "The Olympics are a catalyst for change. They get the provincial and federal government’s involved, and things happen."

He found it interesting that the highway came up immediately everywhere he went, while the IOC regards it as a low priority.

Once people got passed the highway, many were receptive and wanted to know how they could get involved.

"They needed someone to say it’s okay to make a phone call, we want to hear your ideas. In the end it was incredibly positive," said Turner.

On the athletic side, the five athletes participated in the tour around their own training schedules, jumping on and off as they needed. At the Whistler meeting, the tour included Margaret Langford, a three-time Olympian and three-time World Cup medallist in the kayak slalom; Georgina Wheatcroft, an Olympic bronze medallist in Salt Lake City in curling; and Daniel Wesley, a five-time Paralympian in alpine skiing and wheelchair racing with 12 Paralympic medals to his credit. If everything works out he will be in the next Summer and Winter Games as well.

For Wesley, the tour was a rewarding experience.

"It’s pretty exciting to meet all those different people and engage them with what the bid is all about," he said.

Kids generally ask questions about the sports and being an athlete, while adults usually ask what’s in it for them, Wesley said.

"There’s a lot of different kinds of opportunities with the bid. It’s good to see that kids, maybe some future Olympians, are that interested in competing. It will be nice to have home court advantage."

Wheatcroft said it was a wonderful experience.

"For the most part, everyone is really excited about the possibility of hosting an Olympics. It’s also nice to tell our own stories, inspiring kids."

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