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02/17 2009

Being the Premier

PGC_2010_1_YEAR_01I spent most of February 12th, 2009 with Premier Gordon Campbell as a member of the Act Now Athlete Ambassadors Program.  It was the start of the one-year countdown to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.  I say “most of the 12th” because the government folks organizing the day didn’t want me to burn out – so they paced me – I only went to a little over half of the events that the Premier did.  Wait a minute…I’m a three time Olympic athlete who is half his age.  Literally, he is 61 and I am 30…and they are pacing ME?  Huh?

While my day officially started at 11:00 in the morning at Elsie Roy Elementary School in Vancouver, Mr. Campbell’s day had started over five hours earlier in Whistler – before the sun rose.  Elsie Roy was the third official function of his day, and standing in front of 300 pre-teen screaming Olympic enthusiasts, the Premier raised their decibel level…what?  Did I just hear that?  They were loud enough as it was – now they’re CRAZY LOUD.  By the time we got through with them – or should I say: they got through with us – the kids were standing, screaming, singing and waving BC, Canadian and international flags on the Premier’s command.  The international flags were from the Adopt-A-Country program the BC Ministry of Education is running.  I was exhausted after hanging out there with all that energy for an hour – but the Premier seemed to bounce away even more charged by the kids then when he arrived.

Next was the Premier’s Sports Awards – that is, next for me.  Premier Campbell ran off for a quick bite and word with the Vancouver Board of Trade.  No problem, he quickly caught up with us at his awards!  He honoured 60 of the best up-and-coming athletes BC has to offer.  He handed out 60 awards in just over 30 minutes, but none of the recipients seemed to notice the machine precision that it took to get everyone through in such short order, and none felt rushed. The genuine acknowledgement that the Premier was bestowing on them resonated.  I had an important job – fairly exhausting – off to stage (right).  My job was to ensure that all made it up the ramp safely once their name was called…oh, and removed their name tag for the picture with the Premier.  It was tough, but I did it well:  not one name tag made it past me. There was that woman who fell off the ramp – but I couldn’t have saved her…really.

The Premier: 5 events; Dave Calder: 2…and exhausted, hungry, and sore cheek muscles from smiling for so long.

Then the Premier was gone.  I think he had to meet the President of the IOC at the airport or something.  I’m not sure – it was either that or video link with Mr. Harper from Ottawa…no biggie.  By the time I got to the Olympic Oval for the big Countdown event, I was limping in from being so tired.  My feet were sore, I was hungry – still.  I was all smiled out – which solved my sore cheek muscle problem – but then, with the same enthusiasm he had with the kids at Elsie Roy, Mr. Premier Gordon Campbell managed to lift the crowd of several thousand on its feet, screaming and cheering, singing and counting down, and waving those BC and Canadian flags.  6 PM saw us all cheering and singing: 1-year until the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games officially begin.

In the end, PGC: Too many to count; Dave Calder: not enough to whine about!

Mr. Premier, good job making the day so great.  I hope that when I’m 61 there is an event as exciting as the 2010 Games that can keep me half as energetic as you were on Thursday.


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