Court­land teen car­ries games torch

Aalanna Rus­nak helped carry the torch for 2019 Canada Win­ter Games that’s go­ing coast to coast

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS AB­BOTT

Sport­ing a white Canada Win­ter Games jacket, with a red tuque and match­ing mit­tens, Court­land’s Aalanna Ra­mona Rus­nak took part in the big­gest re­lay of her life last month.

An ac­com­plished cross-coun­try run­ner, Rus­nak car­ried the torch on the fi­nal leg of the Canada Win­ter Games Ni­a­gara re­lay Oct. 20 in St. Catharines.

“I was thrilled, it was just su­per ex­cit­ing. It was awe­some to be part of that,” Rus­nak said.

Her mother Jes­sica nom­i­nated her be­fore the June 30 dead­line. More than 900 nom­i­na­tions were re­ceived.

The Canada Games Torch Re­lay “is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to bring com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try to­gether to cel­e­brate the spirit of the Canada Games move­ment and rec­og­nize the ac­com­plish­ments of these de­serv­ing in­di­vid­u­als,” board chair Lyn Rad­ford said in a re­lease.

“The qual­ity and num­ber of nom­i­na­tions was truly im­pres­sive.”

Rus­nak, 13, might be the youngest run­ner in the re­lay that for the first time in the his­tory of the games is trav­el­ling coast to coast. “So that’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” she said.

On her Canada Games bio, Rus­nak is de­scribed as a straight A stu­dent who vol­un­teers at the Till­son­burg Skat­ing Club and ex­cels in dif­fer­ent sports.

The torch re­lay be­gan Oct. 4 in Ot­tawa and wraps up Feb. 15, 2019, vis­it­ing 48 com­mu­ni­ties. Rus­nak’s big day was Oct. 20 in St. Catharines at the Ni­a­gara Re­gion torch re­lay.

“I just had to run 550 me­tres, so it was like a nice en­joy­able run,” she said. “Then I had the five pound torch — I got it at its light­est point be­cause it had burned — it was still pretty heavy. I ran with my cousin (Lilyana Pe­trella) and older brother (Ryan Rus­nak), so that was nice to have the com­pany.

“It was re­ally ex­cit­ing be­ing the last leg of the race be­cause we ran into the cel­e­bra­tion site, which was Brock Uni­ver­sity, and there were tons of peo­ple lined up on the street. They were cheer­ing for the torch — and me — com­ing in.” Rus­nak lit the torch, again, at the caul­dron.

“That was re­ally ex­cit­ing. And I got in­ter­viewed there, so that was ex­cit­ing too.”

The 2019 Canada Win­ter Games will held Feb. 15 to March 3 in Red Deer and cen­tral Al­berta.

CHRIS AB­BOTT/TILL­SON­BURG NEWS

Aalanna Ra­mona Rus­nak, 13, a Grade 8 stu­dent at Our Lady of Fa­tima Catholic School, was a Canada Win­ter Games torch­bearer in St. Catharines on Oct. 20. Rus­nak, a five-time re­gional cross-coun­try cham­pion, ran the fi­nal 550-me­tre leg of the Ni­a­gara Re­gion re­lay bring­ing the torch into the cel­e­bra­tion area at Brock Uni­ver­sity.

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