FURLONG NAMED SPORTSMAN OF DECADE
Vanoc CEO John Furlong earns top honour for spearheading province’s Olympics
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.
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.