Olympic Torch passion and surprise

Thomas Rockwood with the Emerald Lake Lodge Cheer Crew.

Kathryn Cameron

Special to The Star

Five torch bearers met at the Field Visitor Centre on Thursday afternoon, January 21, 2010. Four had known for some time that they would carry the Olympic Flame. The four received instructions on how to light and carry their torches, then each told what the experience meant to them personally.

Former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed said he was thrilled to carry the Olympic Torch through the streets of Calgary for the Winter Games in 1988. He told the group he felt priviledged to be the final torch bearer in Alberta in 2010, and the person to pass the Olympic legacy to British Columbia.

BC Lions Coach Wally Buono talked about his years playing football as a Montreal Alouette, his years coaching the Calgary Stampeders and his career now as coach in Vancouver – a career that has covered all three of Canada’s Olympic cities. He said it was an honour to accept the Olympic Flame at the British Columbia border.

Daniel Lefebvre of Calgary works as an advisor for Own The Podium, a national program to support high performance athletes through competition, training and coaching. Although still recovering from recent hip surgery, Daniel expressed his joy to carry the Olympic Torch in the village of Field.

Thomas Rockwell, age 16, of Ottawa, Ontario applied last summer to be a torch bearer. He couldn’t believe his luck to be chosen! Accompanied by his Mom, and best friend Zak Fowler, Thomas said he was having the trip and experience of his lifetime.

Four torch bearers, but five torches for this leg of the relay . . . everyone waited expectantly for the fifth torch bearer to arrive. A flurry of activity at the front entrance . . . and Premier Gordon Campbell entered the building to welcome and congratulate the torchbearers. But, no, he wasn’t the missing torch bearer.

Torch Relay organizers looked at the clock, said it was time to go to the border and invited 15 year-old Zak Fowler of Ottawa to take the place of the missing torch bearer. His smile lit up the room as he pulled on his suit!

The convoy travelled to the Alberta/British Columbia border in Kicking Horse Pass for the provincial handover from Peter Lougheed to Wally Buono. They returned to Field for the Olympic Torch Relay through the village, lead by Zak. He carried the flame across the bridge to the train tracks. The flame was passed to Daniel who carried his torch up the hill and past the crowd assembled at the school. Premier Campbell invited the students of Field Elementary School to join him in an impromptu, heartfelt rendition of “Oh! Canada” as the torch passed them. Daniel passed the flame to Thomas who proudly carried it back out to the TransCanada Highway.

It was a magical event!

The convoy packed up and headed west to Golden, for their Torch Relay and Celebration that evening. With excitement still flowing freely, Field invited the torchbearers to stay for supper at the community hall before returning to their homes and hotels. Food and music rounded out a pretty spectacular day in Field – Day 84 of the 2010 Winter Games Olympic Torch Relay.

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