‘You can just feel the energy’
Flag-raising officially welcomes Canadians to Pan Am athletes village
EXCITEMENT BUILDING Team Canada squash players Nikole Todd, centre left, and Samantha Cornett, centre, and Waneek Horn-Miller, Team Canada assistant chef de mission, right, participate in a welcome ceremony for Team Canada at the Pan Am Village on Front St. on Wednesday evening. Pan Am Games participants are starting to move into the athletes village before Friday’s opening ceremony.
All 719 athletes couldn’t be on hand, but a mighty contingent of Team Canada was officially welcomed to the Pan Am athletes village Wednesday with drums, dancing and dignitaries.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach joined his Canadian counterpart, Marcel Aubut, along with officials from the Pan Am Games organizing committee to usher in hundreds of smiling athletes decked out in the red and white.
Athletes marched into the plaza, led by chef de mission Curt Harnett, to a rousing rendition of the Pan Am anthem, “Together We Are One.”
Some clapped and sang along as others sought out familiar faces and hugged hello beneath the waving flags of the 41competing nations.
After three Olympic games, goldmedal winning kayaker Adam van Koeverden said marching with Team Canada is still a highlight.
“It doesn’t get old. This is such a cool experience, having everybody dressed the same,” van Koeverden said. “I’m pretty excited to be a part of it.”
“You can just feel the energy and see the excitement on their faces as they came on in,” Harnett said.
“I told them this was maybe a bit of a dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony when they’re going to walk into a stadium of 60,000 Canadians there to cheer them on and build on that energy.”
For BMX racer Amelia Walsh, 22, Wednesday’s ceremony is more than a dress rehearsal. It’s the unofficial opening ceremony for her and her teammates.
With their competition scheduled first thing Saturday morning, coaches advised they skip Friday’s main event.
“Which kind of sucks,” Walsh said. But she’s happy to be staying in the village.
“It’s awesome. I didn’t know what to really expect, but the atmosphere for Canada is very homey.”