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Olympic Torch Goes Surfing in Canada

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Olympic Torch Goes Surfing in Canada

The Olympic flame caught a wave late Sunday afternoon, just as the sun dipped into the Pacific Ocean at Pacific Rim National Park in B.C, Canada.
As a crowd of more than 200 people gathered on the sand at Long Beach, 72-year-old surfer Ruth Sadler waded into the waves with an Olympic torch and passed the flame to 34-year-old Raphael Bruhwiler as he glided by on a surf board.
Bruhwiler, who grew up surfing with his two brothers and a sister on nearby Chesterman Beach, then paddled out and caught one more wave before gliding into the beach, the torch held high above his head.
He was met there by his three-year-old daughter, Aqua, who tagged along beside him as he walked towards shore, torch in one hand, surf board in the other.
“It was easy,” he said, grinning.
The event came towards the end of day three in the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, a mammoth undertaking that is expected to cross the country twice, cover 45,000 kilometres and include 12,000 torchbearers.
Besides Pacific Rim, the flame will visit a total of 34 national historic sites and parks — including stops Saturday at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse in Colwood.
Sadler moved to Tofino in 1967 with her husband, one of the region’s surfing pioneers and an avid athlete.
“I’m remembering him because it’s three years this month since he passed away,” she said. “It’s just a great honour to part of this whole celebration.”
The Olympic flame started off the day in Nanaimo, where Scott Thomas, principal of Esquimalt’s Macaulay Elementary School, was one of the proud torchbearers.
Thomas, 34, said in an interview prior to the relay that he still remembers touching the Olympic torch at age 14 when it passed through Langford in 1988 before the Calgary Games. He hopes that by bringing the torch back to his inner-city school, it will inspire the children to pursue their goals.
“If you have something, never give up on it,” he said.
From Nanaimo, the torch passed through Lantzville, Nanoose Bay and Parksville, where a crowd of about 1,000 gathered for a pancake breakfast outside the local curling club. Long after the flame had come and gone, they stayed for kids’ races on the grass and more pancakes and coffee.
Parksville’s Doug Hodges held his granddaughter in his arms and said he dislikes the amount of money spent on the Olympics, but he wanted his grandchildren to see the torch.
“I still want them to respect the Olympics — the ideals and all the countries coming together to compete,” he said.
But he said the Games have been “ruined” by excess. “Have the Olympics by all means. But they’ve got totally out of hand.”
At Coombs, two torchbearers transferred the flame amid the goats atop the grass-covered roof of the Old Country Market.
Later, the torch moved to Port Alberni, the little city with a big cheering section.
Last year, they sent 64 people to the Beijing Olympics to cheer on local wrestler Travis Cross — the largest community contingent at the Games.
And Sunday, several thousand city residents packed Bob Dailey Stadium to watch Cross, 28, run past cheering school children to light a cauldron on the stage.
“I’m just so proud of this community,” said Cross, a local firefighter and father of two young boys. “Friends, family and other people in the community came to Beijing to cheer me on, and now the rest of the community that was cheering me on from home — they get to feel a piece of the Olympics.
“They should be proud of themselves today. They did a great job.”
The flame then traveled by logging truck and canoe on its way to the ocean and Bruhwiler’s surfboard. Moving from one board to the next, the flame was also scheduled to take a brief spin through a Tofino skate park in the hands of skateboarder Scott Rae-Arthur, great-grandson of Ada Annie Rae-Arthur — better known as Cougar Annie.

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