Olympic Torch touches down on Island soil todayThe Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE - The Olympic torch arrives at the Wood Islands ferry terminal this afternoon, the same mode of transportation it used the last time the relay came to the Island in 1987, prior to the Calgary Olympics.
Prince County residents will get their chance to see the flame during the 22nd day of the 106-day relay.
About 250 people were selected to run a leg of the torch run across the province. Summerside’s segment will feature two Olympians – city native Heather Moyse, who will run the torch into a community celebration at Credit Union Place, while Chinese speed skater Yang Yang will also run a leg through the western capital.
Yang is one of 15 participants from around the world selected by the Vancouver Olympic Committee and the Canadian Tourism Commission to carry the torch for one leg.
The short track speed skater won five Olympic medals, and was China’s first-ever Winter Games gold medalist when she won the women’s 500-m event in 2002. She also won 59 world titles throughout her career.
RCMP are advising motorists traveling near areas where the torch relay is taking place to expect delays this weekend. Drivers are asked to use caution and obey all signs and officers.
While there has been much focus on Summerside’s community celebration on Sunday, residents will also get a chance to see the torch the following day.
The relay begins again at Summerside Intermediate School at 7:23 a.m. Monday and will wind its way down Summer Street before turning left onto Water Street on its way to Reads Corner.
The torch then travels briefly through Bedeque and Kinkora before arriving at the foot of the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton at 9:30 a.m.
On the Net: For more details and interactive maps of the torch relay in each community, visit www.vancouver2010.ca/torchrelay
Time to shine
At 62, Trish Thorpe is finally getting a hand in the Olympics.
The North Milton resident, who has lived on P.E.I. for the past 20 years, grew up in England dreaming of being a part of the largest sporting event in the world.
Now she will get the ultimate symbolic shot, rather than a sporting one. Thorpe will be among the more than 250 Island torchbearers carrying the 2010 Olympic torch through 26 communities as the bright light travels 320 kilometres by land and water on P.E.I. over the weekend and early into Monday morning.
Thorpe is simply tickled pink to be playing a part in the well-hyped affair.
“I love the Olympics,’’ she said. “I’ve always dreamt, since being a little girl, being a part of the Olympics . . . so this is my dream come true. I’m a part of the Olympics.’’
The 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, presented by Coca-Cola and RBC, is well on its way to being the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history as it makes a 45,000-kilometre jaunt across the country.
Thorpe got the nod to do one of the 300-metre legs during the P.E.I. run as a successful applicant in Coca-Cola’s torchbearer selection process. Canadians who worked to reduce their environmental footprint or have supported active living efforts to affect positive change in their communities were invited to nominate themselves to be Olympic torchbearers in this process.
Thorpe fit into the later category. After developing high cholesterol and blood pressure 13 years ago, she got on track to get in shape. In 2004, she ran her first marathon in Rome and has made an effort to encourage others to become active.
While improved health has been her reward for dedicating much time and effort to exercise, carrying the torch is sweet icing on the cake.
“I’m looking forward to holding that torch holding it high,’’ she said of her upcoming short run in Rusticoville, just down the road from the store that she manages and in front of about 30 of her friends, co-workers and family
“Having a smile on my face . . . and enjoying every step I take,’’ she added with a gleeful tone.
Drew Dalziel of Cornwall is getting the torch-bearing thrill much earlier in her life than Thorpe.
The 13-year-old girl will carry the flame in Clinton Sunday thanks to a successful application made by her grandmother.
The athletic teen she plays premier soccer, she is on her school cross-country running team and she plays at a hockey academy – didn’t even know she had been nominated for the honour. When she first got word that she was going to be a torchbearer, she was filled with nervous anticipation.
“I was excited but a bit scared (that) when I got the torch I might fall or something,’’ she said.
The torch run is filled with inspiring individual stories and in the case of an Island father/son duo, at least one notable jaw-dropping unlikelihood.
Gerald Kamphuis, 55, of Charlottetown and his son, Anthony, 13, both applied separately through RBC for the privilege of carrying the torch. Both got the nod.
The coincidence, though, got far more interesting almost downright unbelievable, in fact. Not only were the pair both selected, through separate applications, to be torch bearers but Kamphuis’s 300 metre run will conclude with him passing the torch on to his son in Hunter River.
No connection that the pair was aware of was made of the fact that the separate applications were coming from a father and his son.
“I don’t think they really knew like we are father and son or not,’’ said Anthony.
“I think it’s like really cool because like all my friends are like ‘oh, you are carrying the torch’ and some of them don’t believe me…I think it’s like once in a lifetime – twice, maybe, if you are really lucky.’’
It turns out Barb McNeil, 51, of Summerside is just such a fortunate person.
McNeill was a torchbearer during the 1988 Calgary Olympics. She earned the opportunity after putting her name on a ballot, so it was simply luck of the draw.
This time around, however, her turn with the torch comes in recognition of an amazing accomplishment 20 years ago when she swam the English Channel.
Like her sensational swim, carrying the torch in 1988 remains a special, vivid memory.
“Ah, it was phenomenal. It was pretty cool. You hear your name in the crowd and you hear them clapping and people are trying to take pictures of you.’’
McNeill says she has been out running to be in shape for the torch run but she doesn’t plan to sprint because she wants to savour her spot in the glare of the flame.
Bill McKinnon, 61, of Summerside certainly will not be the blur that he was when he won the Island’s first gold medal at the inaugural Canada Summer Games in 1969 in Halifax when he sprinted to victory in the 100-metre race. A bad back will result in McKinnon walking rather than running with the flame.
“Oh, I’m not in the best of shape,’’ conceded McKinnon, who is athletic director at Montague Regional High School where he also teaches Canadian law and geography. “It won’t take away from my enthusiasm.’’
The chance to carry the torch, he says, is a thrill. Others, he adds, are thrilled for him.
“Everybody seems quite pleased. I?think they see it, like myself, as an honour to do it.’’