FUR­LONG NAMED SPORTS­MAN OF DECADE

Vanoc CEO John Fur­long earns top hon­our for spear­head­ing prov­ince’s Olympics

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - BY YVONNE ZACHARIAS yzacharias@van­cou­ver­sun.com

John Fur­long, the mas­ter­mind of the 2010 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games, gave thanks, re­called the death of an ath­lete and is­sued a chal­lenge for the fu­ture as he was named sports­man of the decade by Sport BC.

In a mov­ing speech Wed­nes­day at the 44th an­nual Ath­lete of the Year Awards at Rich­mond’s River Rock The­atre, he also said Vanoc was al­ways about the team, never the in­di­vid­ual.

“ We were about the many and not the few,” he said. One of his goals was to make sure every­one on the team crossed the fin­ish line to­gether. One of the most re­ward­ing out­comes of the Games for him was that that hap­pened.

Fur­long took a mo­ment to re­count the tragedy at the beginning of the Games when Ge­or­gian luger No­dar Ku­mar­i­tashvili was killed dur­ing a train­ing run. Fur­long re­cently trav­elled to Ge­or­gia to at­tend a cer­e­mony for the luger.

It was im­por­tant, said Fur­long, to hon­our the luger, to be re­spect­ful but also to keep go­ing. “ Ev­ery­body had to be think­ing about both of those things — the ath­letes who were go­ing on and the ath­lete who had just died.”

Just as he re­counted the ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent, he re­lived the mo­ment of joy when Canada won its 14th gold medal, the most won by a na­tion in the Win­ter Games. “ That was the fi­nal mo­ment of the script, the proof that the laws of nat­u­ral jus­tice pre­vailed.”

He urged the au­di­ence to “ look for­ward and say what can we do with this now and where can we take it from here?” The Games have left a legacy of vol­un­teers, “ an army of peo­ple who can con­tinue on in the spirit of the Games.”

Wed­nes­day evening’s cer­e­mony fea­tured sev­eral firsts, in­clud­ing two new awards rec­og­niz­ing a top B. C. Olympian and Par­a­lympian from the 2010 Games.

The pub­lic was asked by the am­a­teur sports as­so­ci­a­tion to vote on­line from a list for their favourite.

More than 3,000 votes de­ter­mined Maelle Ricker and Lauren Wool­s­ten­croft as the win­ners.

Ricker, 31, who grew up in West Van­cou­ver, won a gold medal in the snow­board­cross event. Wool­s­ten­croft, 28, of North Van­cou­ver, took five gold medals in the Par­a­lympics, in gi­ant slalom, slalom, su­per-G, down­hill ski­ing and su­per com­bined. Wool­s­ten­croft was born miss­ing her left arm be­low the el­bow and both legs be­low the knees.

Jim Arm­strong, the re­tired den­tist who led Canada’s wheel­chair curl­ing team to a gold medal in the Par­a­lympics, re­ceived the Harry Jerome Come­back Award.

NFL punter Mitch Berger, who fin­ished last year with Den­ver and hopes to have a new place to kick this sea­son, re­ceived the Best of B. C. Award.

KC Emer­son, who has ded­i­cated close to 20 years of her life to the de­vel­op­ment of triathlon and duathlon sports both at the pro­vin­cial and na­tional lev­els, was awarded the Daryl Thomp­son award, which rec­og­nizes a Bri­tish Columbian who has con­trib­uted to sport over an ex­tended pe­riod of time.

JA­SON PAYNE/ PNG

NFL punter Mitch Berger re­ceives the Best of B. C. Award from B. C.’ s Min­is­ter of Sport Ida Chong in Richmond on Wed­nes­day night.

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