‘You can just feel the energy’

Flag-rais­ing of­fi­cially wel­comes Cana­di­ans to Pan Am ath­letes vil­lage

Toronto Star - - FRONT PAGE - MELISSA RENWICK/TORONTO STAR

EX­CITE­MENT BUILD­ING Team Canada squash play­ers Nikole Todd, cen­tre left, and Sa­man­tha Cor­nett, cen­tre, and Wa­neek Horn-Miller, Team Canada as­sis­tant chef de mis­sion, right, par­tic­i­pate in a welcome cer­e­mony for Team Canada at the Pan Am Vil­lage on Front St. on Wed­nes­day evening. Pan Am Games par­tic­i­pants are start­ing to move into the ath­letes vil­lage be­fore Fri­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony.

All 719 ath­letes couldn’t be on hand, but a mighty con­tin­gent of Team Canada was of­fi­cially wel­comed to the Pan Am ath­letes vil­lage Wed­nes­day with drums, danc­ing and dig­ni­taries.

In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Thomas Bach joined his Cana­dian coun­ter­part, Mar­cel Aubut, along with of­fi­cials from the Pan Am Games or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee to usher in hun­dreds of smil­ing ath­letes decked out in the red and white.

Ath­letes marched into the plaza, led by chef de mis­sion Curt Har­nett, to a rous­ing ren­di­tion of the Pan Am an­them, “To­gether We Are One.”

Some clapped and sang along as oth­ers sought out fa­mil­iar faces and hugged hello be­neath the wav­ing flags of the 41com­pet­ing na­tions.

Af­ter three Olympic games, goldmedal win­ning kayaker Adam van Ko­ever­den said march­ing with Team Canada is still a high­light.

“It doesn’t get old. This is such a cool ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing ev­ery­body dressed the same,” van Ko­ever­den said. “I’m pretty ex­cited to be a part of it.”

“You can just feel the energy and see the ex­cite­ment on their faces as they came on in,” Har­nett said.

“I told them this was maybe a bit of a dress re­hearsal for the open­ing cer­e­mony when they’re go­ing to walk into a sta­dium of 60,000 Cana­di­ans there to cheer them on and build on that energy.”

For BMX racer Amelia Walsh, 22, Wed­nes­day’s cer­e­mony is more than a dress re­hearsal. It’s the unof­fi­cial open­ing cer­e­mony for her and her team­mates.

With their com­pe­ti­tion sched­uled first thing Satur­day morn­ing, coaches ad­vised they skip Fri­day’s main event.

“Which kind of sucks,” Walsh said. But she’s happy to be stay­ing in the vil­lage.

“It’s awe­some. I didn’t know what to re­ally ex­pect, but the at­mos­phere for Canada is very homey.”

MELISSA RENWICK/TORONTO STAR

Cana­dian rac­ing cy­clist and chef de mis­sion Curt Har­nett (front row, sec­ond from right) leads the welcome cer­e­mony for Canada at the Pan Am ath­letes vil­lage on Front St.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Mem­bers of the Toronto Po­lice Ser­vice cer­e­mo­nial unit hold the Cana­dian flag as they pre­pare to raise it dur­ing the welcome cer­e­mony.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Cana­dian BMX cy­clist Tory Ny­haug.

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