Rus­nak car­ries the torch

2019 Canada Win­ter Games Torch Re­lay is go­ing coast to coast

Tillsonburg News - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS AB­BOTT cab­bott@post­

Sport­ing a white Canada Win­ter Games jacket, with red toque and match­ing mit­tens, Court­land’s Aalanna Ra­mona Rus­nak may have run the big­gest re­lay of her life Satur­day, Oct. 20 in St. Catharines.

An ac­com­plished cross-coun­try run­ner, Rus­nak car­ried the Roly McLe­na­han Torch on the fi­nal leg of the Canada Win­ter Games Ni­a­gara re­lay.

“I was thrilled, it was just su­per ex­cit­ing. It was awe­some to be part of that,” said Rus­nak, who ap­plied for the life­time op­por­tu­nity early in the sum­mer.

“Skate Canada sent out an email say­ing they were look­ing for peo­ple to do the Torch Re­lay for the 2019 Canada Win­ter Games. So my mom (Jessica) nom­i­nated me... and I got in over about 700 peo­ple.” Nom­i­na­tions closed June 30th. On the Skate On­tario web­site, it noted ‘The goal is to en­gage cham­pi­ons of sport and com­mu­nity across the coun­try and share their sto­ries as they carry the torch dur­ing this his­toric re­lay.’

More than 900 torch­bearer nom­i­na­tions were re­ceived and re­viewed by the 2019 Canada Win­ter Games be­tween May 14 and June 30.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to these out­stand­ing lead­ers in youth, sport and com­mu­nity across our na­tion who are mak­ing an im­pact in our com­mu­ni­ties,” said Lyn Rad­ford, 2019 Canada Win­ter Games Board Chair in a Septem­ber me­dia re­lease. “The MNP Canada Games Torch Re­lay is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to bring com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try to­gether to cel­e­brate the spirit of the Canada Games move­ment and rec­og­nize the ac­com­plish­ments of these de­serv­ing in­di­vid­u­als.

“The qual­ity and num­ber of nom­i­na­tions was truly im­pres­sive.”

At the age of 13, Rus­nak might be the youngest run­ner in the en­tire 2018-19 Torch Re­lay - which for the first time in the his­tory of the Canada Games is trav­el­ling coast to coast.

“So that’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” she smiled.

In her on­line Canada Games bio, it states “At the age of 13, Aalanna Ra­mona Rus­nak has ac­com­plished so much. She is a straight A stu­dent, vol­un­teers at the Tillsonburg Skat­ing Club and ex­cels in many sports. She even has her own busi­ness, Re­ju­ve­nate. One of Aalanna’s great­est ac­com­plish­ments has been re­ceiv­ing the Canada 150 Medal from Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Diane Fin­ley for en­trepreneur­ship, com­mu­nity in­volve­ment and ex­cep­tional ath­leti­cism.”

From Oct. 4, 2018 in Ottawa, when it was lit at the Cen­ten­nial Flame on Par­lia­ment Hill, un­til Feb. 15, 2019 the Canada Games Torch Re­lay will visit 48 com­mu­ni­ties with 26 torch re­lay stops (routes vary­ing from 2-5 km), with about 10-15 torch­bear­ers at each stop, and 22 smaller scale cel­e­bra­tion stops.

Rus­nak’s big day was Oct. 20 in St. Catharines at the Ni­a­gara Re­gion Torch Re­lay, where she car­ried the torch along with MP Chris Bit­tle, Dr. Cheri Bradish, Adam Cook, MPP Wayne Gates, Kan­ice McLean, 2021 Canada Sum­mer Games Host So­ci­ety board mem­ber Karen Natho, Mike Watt, and Doug Ged­die.

“I just had to run 550 me­tres, so it was like a nice en­joy­able run,” said Rus­nak. “Then I had the five pound torch - I got it at its light­est point be­cause it had burned - it was still pretty heavy. I ran with my cousin (Lilyana Pe­trella) and older brother (Ryan Rus­nak), so that was nice to have the com­pany.

“It was re­ally ex­cit­ing be­ing the last leg of the race be­cause we ran into the cel­e­bra­tion site, which was Brock Univer­sity, and there were tons of peo­ple lined up on the street. They were cheer­ing for the torch and me - com­ing in.”

Rus­nak lit the Roly McLe­na­han Torch, again, at the caul­dron.

“That was re­ally ex­cit­ing. And I got in­ter­viewed there, so that was ex­cit­ing too.”

From St. Catharines, the torch trav­elled to Lon­don for an Oct. 22 re­lay.

The 2019 Canada Win­ter Games will be hosted by Red Deer and cen­tral Al­berta, Feb. 15-March 3, and will in­clude 19 sports, more than 150 events and a ma­jor arts and cul­tural fes­ti­val, with up to 3,600 ath­letes, man­agers and coaches and more than 20,000 vis­i­tors.

Chris Ab­bott/Tillsonburg new

Aalanna Ra­mona Rus­nak, 13, a Grade 8 stu­dent at Our Lady of Fa­tima Catholic School, was a Canada Win­ter Games torch­bearer in St. Catharines on Satur­day, Oct. 20. Rus­nak, a five-time re­gional cross-coun­try cham­pion, ran the fi­nal 550-me­tre leg of the Ni­a­gara Re­gion re­lay bring­ing the torch into the cel­e­bra­tion area at Brock Univer­sity.

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