Volunteers share amazing memories of Vancouver Olympic games

Princeton’s Vivian O’Connor poses with French figure skaters Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur, who finished 14th in the 2010 Olympics. “They were so darned nice,” she said. Lyle Thomas, now Princeton’s CAO, was personal envoy for the Latvian Skeleton team and got to hold an Olympic silver medal.

A decade ago this month, Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Approximately 25,000 volunteers were recruited to run the games, and at least two of those people came from Princeton.

Ten years ago Princeton turned out to cheer the Olympic torch

“I was working in Alberta around Calgary when the 1988 Olympics happened,” said Lyle Thomas, who is now Princeton’s CAO. “I felt the urge to get involved then and I didn’t. I let it pass by and I always kicked myself for that. When Vancouver was awarded the Olympics I decided that was a no-brainer. I had to apply.”

The road to qualifying for a position was lengthy and extensive.

“Once you were accepted there was a year of training.”

Thomas travelled to Vancouver once a month to receive instruction in driving, etiquette, cultural expectations and communication.

He was assigned a coveted position, personal envoy for the Latvian Skeleton team, and had a front row seat for all practices and competitions.

Latvia’s Martins Dukurs won silver, and was just edged off the top of the podium by Canadian Jon Montgomery.

While getting to hold the Olympic medal and celebrate with the athletes he attended to daily was thrilling, Thomas’ best memory is simply the joy he felt being part of the event.

“I think it was just an overwhelming sense of pride in our country,” he said “It was just about being part of something Canadian and just the national pride you felt because there is no question in my mind that Canada did a great job of putting together those Olympics.”

Related: 2010 Winter Olympics have led to a decade of Canadian confidence in sport

Vivian O’Connor was an Olympic driver.

“I volunteered because I wanted to meet people from all over the world.”

O’Connor worked 10-hour evening shifts for the two weeks of the games.

“We drove anybody with credentials to specific drop off points, or so we were told to. In reality I took my people wherever they wanted to go.”

She handed out Canada pins to anyone who wanted one, and asked everyone to sign her Canada flag.

“The nicest people were the workers for the International Olympic Committee,” she said.

“I took the President of the Greek Olympic committee to the airport. He was a sweet guy, was here with his daughter. He gave me a bottle of the best wine ever. It was a present from the Russian Olympic Committee, but he didn’t drink so he had promised himself he would give it to whomever drove him to the airport when he left.”

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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