Veteran volunteer off to S. Korea
Toronto woman lands media role at Winter Games
The last time Olympians descended on South Korea, Mona Yeganegi was only a few months old.
But next month, when all eyes turn to Pyeongchang, the North York resident will play a prominent role — helping run media operations at the hockey venue as a member of the organizing committee.
“It’s a bit ironic,” said Yeganegi. “I’ve been in so many places, but it just so happens that it’s my first games in Asia, and it’s the second time this country is hosting the games. I’m very excited.”
At 29, Yeganegi has already become a veteran volunteer at the Olympics and other sports events across the world — a path she decided to follow after realizing sports would be more of a hobby for her than a profession.
Now, for the first time, she’s taking on more responsibility in a paid position.
Yeganegi was born in Iran, but her parents immigrated to Canada when she was eight years old. Her love of gymnastics and ballet propelled her into performing roles at dozens of international sports competitions, including Vancouver in 2010, London in 2012, Toronto for the 2015 Pan-am Games and 2016 in Rio.
Yeganegi has also been a feature in the closing ceremonies, doling out medals to winning athletes. She hopes to keep those responsibilities, in addition to her new position.
“I’ve always had more than one role at these events, and that’s most likely not going to change,” she said.
There has been an air of uncertainty over the security situation for the Feb. 9-25 Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang is only some 80 kilometres south of the border with North Korea, a country that has tense relationships with other nations. Countries like France and Austria have warned they could pull out of the games if security is not assured.
Only this Tuesday, North Korea agreed to participate in the games, promising to send a delegation of athletes, fans and a performance-art troupe. Back in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, the northern neighbour boycotted participation and was accused of trying to sabotage the event.
Yeganegi said Olympic anxieties are nothing new, remembering the security concerns in Vancouver and Sochi as well as the Zika virus worries in Rio.
“We do live in scary times for sure, but I don’t want to let fear of the unknown stop me from doing things I am passionate about,” she said. “Olympics are like a big family, and I have no doubt that these games will be a success.”
Veteran Olympic volunteer mona yeganegi is looking forward to representing Toronto in pyeongchang.