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'Nation-building moment': Rick Hansen recalls carrying the 2010 Olympic torch
VANCOUVER -- On the 10th anniversary of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, CTV News caught up with Rick Hansen to talk about his experience participating in the Olympic torch relay.
CTV News Vancouver's Jason Pires: Ten years ago on Feb. 11, the torch was nearing BC Place. What do you remember from that day?
Rick Hansen: Oh man I tell you I was fresh off the experience of taking the Olympic flame into my home town in Richmond and just feeling the incredible excitement of our very diverse community coming together to really share our values and celebrate the beginning of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It was at that moment that I really knew the Games themselves had really transcended and permeated into the fabric of our community and that people really were buying into this and very excited about this. It was an honour. I couldn't wait for the fact that the opening ceremonies was just a few hours away.
Pires: What does it mean to carry that torch?
Hansen: The torch relay was phenomenal. And the reason why is because it gives people from … the entire country a chance to touch the flame, be a part of the journey, and to have shares in it and to express their enthusiasm, their joy and get people excited and aware that the Games are coming to our country. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I just think it's so important to know that we're all difference-makers in some way and those difference-makers got selected to be a part of that to represent every little micro community and every part of this country and every community around the world. I think that's worth sharing and it's a flame that shone bright and helped ignite the Games and I think it was key to our success.
Pires: What is your biggest takeaway, in simplest terms?
Hansen: It was a transcending point for Canada and for our community because we're a diverse community and yet our strengths come when we have things that bring us together and it was a tremendous nation-building moment. Values are important and it's about people and each person really has some role to play in our society and sport is such a beautiful mirror for how we view ourselves.
The diversity, the full engagement, the passion, the celebration, the pride and really the encouragement of the athletes who came, giving them the best experience they possible could, I think in my mind it's a real turning point for the country itself as it continues to grow. It's a young country with big dreams.
Pires: The Paralympic Games were a smashing success.
Hansen: You know, it's probably one of the most powerful reasons why there was such emotion coming from me when I got to the top of that ramp and I was able to raise my arms because the pride in knowing how far we've come since my Man in Motion tour 25 years earlier.
There was no Paralympic Games at the Calgary games in 1988; it was just a fantasy that this might happen. To know that this was not just the Olympic Games, it was the Olympic and Paralympic Games, two events inside one games, one class of people. It was a powerful statement and that's what sport's all about.