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Monday, February 01, 2010

The Skinny on Who will light the Olympic Flame

Who should light the olympic flame?

It's a question that many have asked and few have a definitive answer. In the spirit of the Olympics, the torchlighter has always been someone of extreme significance to Athletics in their country, coupled with a humanitarian aspect. The Vancouver Province offered up four names that could do the job if called upon and several other names have been mentioned as possible torchlighters. I will list a few worthy (and some perhaps unworthy) candidates and the pros and cons of each one.

1. Betty Fox
The mother of national hero Terry Fox, who ran across Canada for cancer research in his Marathon of Hope trek.
Pros: The connection with Terry Fox, who would probably be a hands down choice if he were with us, provides Canadians with another way to honour and acknowledge his legacy around the world.
Cons: Betty Fox is not Terry Fox. She's not an athlete at any sort of serious level. She's also not well known outside of the Terry Fox name. For her to light the torch would be simply because of what Terry Fox was able to achieve and that is that.
Outlook: Terry Fox was not an olympian and despite his legacy, only past olympians who have achieved something at an olympics generally light the torch. Betty Fox is neither Terry nor an Olympian which makes her odds long. Still with the grass roots support she has been recieving as well as the still strong Terry Fox legacy, she could squeak in there at the end.

2. Ross Rebagliatti
Winner of first Gold medal in snowboarding, local athlete.
Pros: Winning the first Gold Medal in snowboarding, one of the most popular events in the winter olympics now, would be grounds for selection. Also he has expressed a desire to enter politics which might be a nice PR move if he gets the nob.
Cons: Nearly had his Gold medal stripped because of positive Marijuana test...promting numerous jokes about pot-headed Canadian snowboarders for years since. Naturally the big question if he gets the nod is if he'll light up a dube with the torch as well.
Outlook: It would be an interesting selection for obvious reasons, but to many skeletons in the closet lead me to believe that Van-Oc don't really want him as the poster boy for the worlds biggest event. Chances are slim to none.

3. Trevor Linden
Vancouver Canucks hockey here, former olympian.
Pros: He is loved by Canucks fans as a legend, plus he donates a lot of his time to worthy causes around the local area. Playing on the 1998 Canadian Hockey Team doesn't hurt his chances either.
Cons: Unfortunately, he is not that significant outside of Vancouver, which will cut into his chances of selection. Also the fact that he didn't win a medal hurts his chances.
Outlook: A dark horse candidate with credentials to boot, but his low profile outside of Vancouver will hurt him in the end.

4. Steve Nash
NBA Basketball star, represented Canada at 2000 Olympics.
Pros: He is well known across the world as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. Spends a great deal of time and money to charitable causes. He is the first and only Canadian to win the NBA MVP award and did it twice. Led the Candian Men's Basketball team to it's best ever showing in Sydney and to top it off he's local.
Cons: Not a whole lot of cons except that basketball is a summer olympics sport, and it might be hard for Nash to get around possible scheduling conflicts as his Suns are in the middle of their season right now. Plus he plays and spends a great deal of time in the States.
Outlook: A pretty safe pick for Van-Oc and on the shortlist I would imagine. If all works out with the Suns, Steve Nash would be a prime choice.

5. David Suzuki
Environmental Activist, local personality
Pros: What a message Canada could send to promoting a greener society by having David Suzuki light the torch.
Cons: Not an athlete and too much public debate on his environmental issues to be a safe pick.
Outlook: Pretty slim, but if Van-Oc went into left field with their pick, you really can't get much more than him.

6. Pamela Anderson
TV starlet/bombshell, local celebrity
Pros: Known worldwide for Baywatch, she is local and she is a supporter for animal rights.
Cons: Her support for animal rights comes with militant group PETA, which continues to divid peoples opinions to this day. She is also know for her several high profile affairs, romances, and sex tapes that make her a little to risque for the family image that Van-Oc would want to portray.
Outlook: Really Pamela Anderson is just another pretty face who is well known for who she is, and not how talented or special she is. Odds are slim to none.

7. Michael J Fox
Tv/Movie star. Humanitarian and Disease Advocate
Pros: He's well known for his acting roles on Back to the Future and News Radio. He's from Burnaby. He also has waged a very public battle with Parkisons Disease that makes him a sentimental pick.
Cons: Again, he's not an athlete...although he's participated in several celebrity hockey games for charity.
Outlook: Not a bad pick for the job. Although I think the fact that he is not an athlete will hurt his chances in the end.

8. Joe Sakic
Hockey Legend, Olympic Gold Medal winner, local.
Pros: Scored winning goal in 2002 Gold medal winning game, arguably the biggest victory for Canada in sports since the 72 series. grew up in Burnaby.
Cons: Has played most of his career outside of Canada, particularly for bitter Canucks rivals Colorado Avalanche.
Outlook: In 2002 the 1980 U.S Gold medal team lit the torch, why not do something similar for Vancouver? An intriguing pick that deserves merit.

9. Rick Hansen
Wheelchair Athlete, Advocate, local.
Pros: His Man in Motion tour raised millions of dollars for curing spinal injuries. He is a notable supporter of other causes as well as amateur sport.
Cons: He hasn't been in the olympics (although he did win a gold medal in the 1980 Paralympics).
Outlook: Prolly the co-front runner. Local hero for all the right reasons, and provides Van-Oc with a nice PR for the disabled. If he doesn't light the Torch at the Olympics, he will be hands down favourite for the Paralympics.

10. Wayne Gretzky
The Great One, nuff said. An olympian and organizer of the 2002 Gold Medal Hockey team.
Pros: He is the greatest player ever, in Canada's most popular sport. He is known all over the world as the Great One. Still is involved with hockey and usually is one to support worthy causes.
Cons: He is not local and didn't win a Gold medal himself in 1998. His misfortunes with the Phoenix Coyotes have tainted his legacy slightly.
Outlook: Co-Front runner with Rick Hansen. Rick Hansen provides the more P.C. pick with the disabled slant, but Gretzky is Gretzky.

11. Don Cherry
Hockey Icon
Pros: He is nationally and internationally known for his coaches corner segments on Hockey Night in Canada and he is also a avid supporter of minor hockey across the country and a spokesperson for the sport globally.
Cons: His opinions have gotten him into hot water. Is known for disliking european players and also works for CBC, a rival network to CTV. Also was never a great hockey player.
Outlook: He's brash, opinionated, and popular but Cherry's biggest downfall will be the CBC. Not a chance.

12. Cindy Klassen
Speed Skating Superstar.
Pros: She has won more medals at the winter olympics than any other Canadian.
Cons: Not too many. She is however, competing at these games which may limit her involvement in formalities like torch ceremonies.
Outlook: A solid pick, and she is one of the few females on this list. Knowing Canada's love for the disabled, minorities, and women she might get the nod.

13. Donovan Baily
Former Olympic Gold Medalist
Pros: Provided Canada with one of its all-time great olympic memories in winning the 100 meter sprint in 1996 as well as helping Canada win the relay the same year. Also is a minority, which might play well into the P.C. hands of Van-Oc
Cons: The drug fueled paranoia around such sports like sprinting might be enough to kill his chances. He's not from Vancouver and most of his records have since been smashed.
Outlook: A good solid pick if Van-Oc wanted a visible minority. His profile might not be high enough to top some others on this list. Not to mention that he is a summer athlete.

14. Bobby Orr
Hockey Legend
Pros: Is probably the second greatest hockey player in history. An avid supporter of different amateur sports and charities.
Cons: Played most of his career in the United States. Never palyed in an Olympic games hurts his chances. Also retired almost 33 years ago which means that very few of us under 40 really remember how good he was.
Outlook: Again a solid pick, but probably won't get the nod.

15. Bryan Adams
International Music Star
Pros: He is known all over the world for his music. Raised in North Vancouver, he has always been willing to support Canadian events and causes when asked.
Cons: His fub of the national anthemn at the all-star game years ago is still pretty fresh in people's mind. He also doesn't live in Canada any more.
Outlook: I'm sure Vanc-Oc will provide Adam's an opportunity to contribute somewhere, but this isn't it. (you can substitute Sarah McLauglin, Nickelback, and Michael Buble to this entry).

16. Mike Weir
Golf Star, only Canadian to win a golf major.
Pros: He is one of very few Canadians to excel in the sport of golf, winning the Master's in the process.
Cons: He has been streaky since his Master's win in 2003. Also he lives and trains in Utah.
Outlook: A left field pick that probably won't happen simply because he hasn't been able to build on his Master's win. Also living in Utah hurts him.

17. Lennox Lewis
Former Heavyweight Champion of the World and Olympic Gold Medalist.
Pros: Atlanta had Muhammed Ali, light the flame so there is a precident for Lewis to do it. Also he is a visible minority.
Cons: He's flipped flopped countries so many times i'm not sure where he lives right now. He's Canadian, Jamaican, and British. The confusion will hurt his chances.
Outlook: Sketchy at best due to his many nationalities.

18. Daniel Igali
Gold Medalist in Wrestling, local athlete.
Pros: He has a feel-good story coming from near poverty in Nigeria to an Olympic Gold medal for Canada. Who can forget him dancing around the Canadian flag when he won. He's a visible minority, and a humanitarian.
Cons: Doesn't have quite the profile as some of the other people on this list. However, with a feel good rags to sucess story, do you really want to count him out.
Outlook: Probably won't be picked, but maybe should. No other person on this list exemplifies the Canadian Spirit quite like he does.

19. Romeo Dallaire
Head of UN Peacekeepers during the Rwandan Genocide.
Pros: An international humanitarian for his role in attempting to prevent the Rwandan genocide.
Cons: Not an athlete, which will hurt his chances.
Outlook: With the war in the Middle East still looming, and young men and women risking and losing their lives every day there, a person like Dallaire might be a strong candidate in order to raise awareness to the soldiers.

20. Paul Henderson
Hockey Player, Scorer of the Goal.
Pros: Scored the biggest goal in the biggest game in Canadian history. Is a supporter of amateur sports, and a goodwill ambassador for sport.
Cons: 1972 was 38 years ago, which means that few Canadians really remember it firsthand. Also Paul was simply an above average NHL'er for his career, and he is not that well known outside of Canada.
Outlook: It could be possible that the entire surviving team could light the Flame, but I think that if they are gonna go that route and honour an event like this, it'll be with 2002 and Joe Sakic.


Blogger Pauleywood said...

some other picks that might be worth mentioning are.. Elvis Stoiko, Gaetan Boucher, Jonathan Cheecho (native Canadian slant), Silken Laumann, Karen Magnussen, Nancy Greene Raine, Gordie Howe, Bob Lenarduzzi, the Sedin twins, Roberto Luongo, and maybe just for fun Big Country Reeves.

February 1, 2010 at 2:45 AM  

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