Games off to glitzy start
Stanley Cup champion, Olympic gold medallist light flame
There may not have been a parachuting Queen of England, but the opening ceremonies for the 2012 NL Summer Games Aug. 18 did have a Stanley Cup champion, an Olympic gold medallist and much, much more.
Harbour Grace natives Danny Cleary and Jamie Korab entered the Carbonear Recreation Complex, torches in hand, to the applause of hundreds of cheering athletes and other onlookers. As the two celebrated local athletes rounded the final corner and hit the home stretch, throngs of athletes lined the track for the chance to catch an up-close glimpse two of Newfoundland’s finest.
The grey sky and threat of rain did not hold back the thunderous applause as Cleary and Korab proudly ascended two sets of stairs on either side of a tower, gave one final wave to the crowd, and lit the torch, officially kicking off the week-long sporting extravaganza in Carbonear and Harbour Grace.
Even before the two sporting icons took the torches from Don Butt, a wellknown fitness guru from Carbonear, and Sonia Williams of Harbour Grace, who 30 years ago turned in a dominating performance at the ’82 Winter Games in Labrador, the atmosphere was already highly charged.
The spirited parade of athletes, entertaining musical performances, well-choreographed dancing and inspiring words of encouragement and praise from the province’s political elite had already stoked feelings of pride, enthusiasm and anticipation.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale brought greetings on behalf of the provincial government.
“For more than 37 years, the Newfoundland and Labrador Games program has been encouraging participation in sport and the pursuit of excellence. These Games represent the spirit of competition, the joy of achievement and the challenge of excellence.”
As the athletes from eight regions of the province and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon paraded onto the field, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement.
The energy of the athletes entering the field passed from one spectator to the other and it only grew as the impressive ceremony pushed further into the Conception Bay North night.
Each region was greeted with warm applause, but it was the host team that generated the loudest ovation, likely symbolic of the type of support the athletes will receive as they compete for medals this week.
Dunderdale said “You can feel the sizzle of expectation from the athletes, organizers and supporters.”
The premier urged athletes to use the lessons learned from these Games to help them grow in the future.
“These Games are about more than competition. They are about good sportsmanship, new friendships and lasting memories.”
The mayors of the two host towns – Sam Slade (Carbonear) and Don Coombs (Harbour Grace) – could not wipe the smiles from their faces from start to finish of the opening ceremonies.
An event of this magnitude would not have been possible without the volunteers who could be seen scurrying around the ceremonies ensuring dancers, musicians and athletes were receiving their cues and the event ran smoothly.
The exhaustion seen in their eyes could not overcome the joy etched across their faces as Kyle O’Grady broke into the official anthem or the Summer Games dancers performed a eye grabbing routine – complete with fireworks.
And so started a week of sport and camaraderie for the athletes from around the province.
The Carbonear Compass
NHLer and Stanley Cup champion Danny Cleary (right) and Olympic gold medallist Jamie Korab, both of Harbour Grace, were given the honour of lighting the flame during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 NL Summer Games in Carbonear and Harbour Grace Aug....