the spirit of the torch

alison with the torch
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. 

alison's biggest fan
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!

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Allison, I absolutely loved this blog post and what the Olympic torch represents.

Comment by Shawna — November 10, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

Heck yeah Allison! You’ve got the spirit.., nice write up. I love your mitts!

Comment by leanne — November 10, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

What a great post. I’m running the torch in December..and am extremely excited about it..even moreso after reading your article!!!

Comment by Eleni — November 10, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

Great job Allison!

Comment by Krista — November 10, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

Allison, thank you so much for sharing your story! Loved it!

Comment by Heather — November 10, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

Congratulations Allison on a wonderful blog article and a fabulous career. we know your energy, attitude and generosity of spirit mean a lot to people especially the youngsters. Keep up the good work! We love you, Dad and Gill

Comment by Dad and Gill — November 11, 2009 @ 10:33 am

YAY AL!!!! We’re all SO proud of you!! SH

Comment by Sharon — November 11, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

Thank you for such a great read on a rainy Wednesday afternoon! :)

Comment by Elissa Joy — November 18, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

Ohhhh, a bit misty eyed myself over here…thanks for your honesty! GREAT writing.

Comment by Edith Rozsa — November 26, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

Great post. It’s refreshing to read the perspective of the Olympic Athlete and all the hard word and dedication that it takes to get there. Sometimes we need to remember to take in that deep breathe and be present in where we are right now rather than clinging to what we have done in the past or where we strive to be in the future. The Olympics is a great opportunity for those athletes to take that breathe, enjoy the experience they deserve after all their hard work.

Comment by Brian — December 7, 2009 @ 9:44 am

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