the spirit of the torch
posted: November 10, 2009
Allison running with the torch
When I received the call three weeks ago that I had been nominated to run with the torch, I was… well, not that excited. I know that sounds bad and I by no means was taking the honour lightly, but in the spirit of full disclosure this was what was going through my head: well, your goal was to win the Olympics in Vancouver, but I guess carrying the torch is kind of cool.
You see, as a two-time Olympian who was forced into retirement through injury, my past Olympic experiences had consisted of operating within an insular bubble of train-rest- compete-leave. I was not exposed to what the world around me understood. I admittedly pretended to understand what this “Olympic movement” was all about.
As an athlete who competed continually throughout the two weeks, I only left the security of the Village to train or compete. All of my down time was spent preparing for the next competition. In preparation for the Olympics in 2002, I decided not to attend the opening ceremonies. As unfathomable as this is to many, I felt like it would negatively affect my competition. Looking back now, I regret that decision. I had not absorbed the spirit of the Games, I just wanted to win.
Well, it took two Olympics, and a 300m run with a torch, but I’ve finally got the spirit! When I boarded that bus with my 15 fellow torch bearers, who together would cover a whopping distance of 4.5 km, something happened, something changed. I don’t know if it was our guide who could barely speak of the Olympics without crying, or the woman who was running in honour of her daughter Hope who had recently passed away, but I started to tingle as that bus took off.
Allison’s biggest/littlest fan
We cruised down the streets lined with people waving flags and kids chanting and the tingles turned to tears. By the time I actually took off with the official flame for my 300m segment, I knew what I think others knew all along. The Olympic Games represent so much more than sport. They truly are a peace movement, where a country first comes together to carry a torch a total of 45,000km, and then welcomes the rest of the world in the celebration of challenging the human spirit. I apologize if I am telling you all something you already knew, but I just wanted to share that it took the torch to teach me this, and I will always be grateful. Go World!