Vancouver Whitecaps FC played an active role in the final day of the Olympic Torch Relay, as president Bob Lenarduzzi received the honour of carrying the Olympic Flame just hours before the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
In a remarkable journey that covered 106 days and 45,000 kilometers across Canada, the final day saw the Olympic Flame makes its way around the city of Vancouver before reaching its final destination at BC Place for Friday evening's opening festivities.
Just after midday local time on Vancouver's Great Northern Way out front of Vancouver's St. Francis Xavier School, Lenarduzzi proudly received the Olympic Flame from youngster Jacob Emerson - a Grade 12 student and member of the track & field team at Maple Ridge Secondary School. The former Whitecaps defender and Canadian international quickly proceeded 300 meters along Great Northern Way and down East 2nd Avenue to just past the intersection of Scotia Street. It was there that Lenarduzzi passed the flame on to another Vancouver sports icon in former BC Lions kicker Lui Passaglia.
For Lenarduzzi, Friday served as a special memory for the former Olympian. "When you are a player or a coach in a sporting event, you are usually focused on that and how you react to the atmosphere in the stadium," he told whitecapsfc.com. "Today was a different kind of emotion, as I had a chance to be a participant and a fan. What is clear to me is that the Olympics is something that has galvanized the province of British Columbia and the whole of Canada. I think the Olympics is something that goes beyond sport. It's an opportunity for people to come together, and there are not that many events in the world that are capable of doing that."
Two other members of the Whitecaps family were also given the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch this week. On Friday morning, Whitecaps women's team physician, Dr. Janice Peace, carried the flame along Davie Street in downtown Vancouver. On Thursday afternoon, Vancouver MLS 2011 co-owner and NBA basketball star Steve Nash ran with the torch along Vancouver's West 49th Avenue.
Running February 12 to 28, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games sees the world's top winter sport athletes compete in a variety of disciplines in both Metro Vancouver and Whistler. This will be followed by the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games, which takes place from March 12 to 21 in Vancouver and Whistler.