|Posted on April 20, 2011 at 8:24 PM|
For www.denny-morrison.com , 20th April 2011 By Naomi Schläger
With the 2010 Olympics over for more than a year now, media attention has shifted from winter sports to summer sports as the 2012 London Olympic Games are the next stop on the Olympic calendar. However, not in Canada! With the 2010 Olympics held in their backyards, Canadians have never shown more passion for athletes and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has harnessed this momentum with their Hall of Fame celebration. COC has chosen the city of Moncton, N.B. as the host for their signature annual event and celebration where the Olympic family gathers again for the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Gala Dinner & Induction Ceremony. As a built up for this Hall of Fame Gala, COC has introduced the Canadian Olympic Heroes Tour. Denny Morrison was invited to join this year’s Heroes Tour across the Atlantic Provinces.
The goal of the the Olympic Heroes Tour was to rekindle the spirit felt in the communities during the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay and the tour has visited Halifax (N.S), St. John’s (NFLD), Charlottetown and Summerside, (P.E.I) and finished of with the Hall of Fame Gala in Moncton(N.B.). The tour consisted of a series of community events along the way to celebrate not only the Candian Olympic Movement, but also national heroes,local heroes and the unspoken heroes within us. This first-ever Olympic Heroes Tour featured seven Olympic medallists and two Paralympians who spread the Olympic spirit and inspired personal excellence trough Atlantic Canada. The group of Olympians included rower Adam Kreek (gold), Short track speed skater Tania Vicent (two silver, two bronze) bobsledders Kaillie Humhries (gold), Heather Moyse (gold), David Bissett (bronze) and Chris Le Bihan (bronze) and Long track speed skater Denny Morrison (gold, silver).
Triggered by his reports on twitter about the #heroestour, I was curious to know more about the tour and how Denny experienced this. Alarming tweets about lost gold medals and the pictures about the tour brought up these questions:
You were involved in CDN Olympic Team's Heroes Tour,can you tell us what the goal of the tour is and what it is means for you personally?
This is the first year the Heroes Tour has taken place. Every year the COC has an Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Gala, where many Sponsors buy tables in support of the COC and several Canadian Olympians gather to celebrate these peoples' achievements and play host to each sponsor's table. The heroes tour was developed as a way to bring some of these Canadian Olympians out early to the general area in Canada where the Gala is to be held and through visits to various local public organizations. We shared our Olympic stories with the goal of instilling a sense of connection with the nearby communities, inspire the kids, share the power of sport, and also bring about awareness of the Olympic Movement through the upcoming event.
How did you get involved in the Heroes tour and what is expected of you?
The Canada Olympic Committee organizes both the Hall of Fame Gala, as well as choosing various athletes to take part in the preceding Heroes Tour. This year there were 9 athletes, myself included, who travelled all over Atlantic Canada. Among the stops we made, were Children's Hospital Visits, School, Military, and City Hall visits, as well as some mass scale community organized events.
Denny Morrison enjoying breakfast with the Canadian Military and Rear Admiral Gardam.
What was the most memorable moment of the Heroes Tour for you personally?
One of the most amazing stops on the Heroes Tour was one of these mass community events in Moncton, where 5000 school kids packed into the local hockey stadium to hear us speak. The energy in the room was unbelievable. Reminded me of the cheering during our team pursuit final at the Olympics, albeit, slightly more ear piercing high pitched screams overall. The Arkells, a Canadian band from Hamilton, played a few sets during the event which made it a lot of fun as well.
Stadium full of kids waiting in Moncton
Which question do people ask you most frequently?
For me specifically, people are often curious how I got into speed skating to begin with. It was refreshing traveling with athletes from other sports and to hear some of the questions they are frequently asked. Upon meeting me, especially at appearances such as these where they know they are coming to meet Olympians, I have my medal with me and everyone is always surprised with how heavy it is.
Autograph session with students of St. John's (NFLD)
And what is the most common remark people make on meeting you?
The most common remark that I hear, is that I don't look as big in person as on TV, or my legs don't look like big speed skater legs. I usually reply with, "that's because I'm notin a skin suit right now".
Front page of Moncton's local newspaper
Together with other (para) olympians you’ve toured around the Atlantic Provinces, where speed skating is not as common as in Calgary, do you think you can tribute to changing that?
My goal is to encourage & inspire kids to get involved in sport in general. That said, the Canada Games were just held in Halifax this past winter, where a new outdoor oval with artificial ice was built for it, and I've heard nothing but good things about the development of the club there. I even met a few aspiring speed skaters from the area who've only been in the sport a number of months.
Now this year’s Heroes Tour is over, what other activities do you have planned for your summer?
I'm answering these questions on an airplane on my way to Palm Springs, CA right now. Spending some time in the sun and doing a bit of mountain biking in California is what I consider my last period of rest before attacking the upcoming training season.
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