Games off to glitzy start

Stan­ley Cup cham­pion, Olympic gold medal­list light flame

The Southern Gazette - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER TC COMMUNITY NEWS­PA­PERS Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

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.

EN­ER­GIZED AT­MO­SPHERS

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.

VOL­UN­TEER WORK

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....

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