There are six of them, these Olympians grew up in this community and we chose to laud and honour the job they did.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 5, 2012  Once they become  Olympians  the title is with them for life.  We applaud them, we laud their achievements and in Burlington we have claimed five as our own – and then we realized we have a sixth – that being Brandon Wager who is participating at the London Paralympic Games.

Canadian cupcakes for three of our Olympians. From the left – Mark Oldershaw, Colin Russell and Melanie Booth.

Burlington held a small reception for the Olympians, it was the second such event.  There was a get together in the Atrium for Colin and Sinead Russell, held to accommodate Sinead’s travel plans.  She was leaving the next day to begin her sports scholarship at a university in Florida.

The event Tuesday evening was larger and included Melanie Booth and Mark Oldershaw.  Melanie was part of the soccer team that dazzled Canadians who felt the pain when the Canadian team lost the opportunity to bring home Gold – but we happily accepted bronze and know that next time out the world is going to watch a superior soccer team.

Oldershaw, who is the fifth member of his family to take part in the Olympics, was on hand.  The man has a remarkably laid back approach to people and speaks exceptionally well.  We will see more of this man.

Both athletes in the room passed their medal around and let anyone wear it for a while.

The unpredictable weather resulted in a small crowd. Other activities kept MP Mike Wallace away (on vacation in Italy) while MP Jane McKenna was in the Legislature debating a bill to ensure teachers don’t walk out. The Mayor came close to getting all mushy about that final soccer game when the Canadian team earned bronze medals

Mayor Goldring came close to getting a little carried away with himself when he spoke of watching every minute of the soccer game “that brought home”  the bronze medals.  Didn’t we all do that?

These young men and woman went to personal lengths few of us manage to do in our lives.  Mindless hours of putting their bodies through routine after routine.  They take on a lifestyle that shuts out many of the pleasures and pleasantries the rest of us enjoy day in and day out.

This is what an Olympian wears when they want to make a fashion statement.

They push their bodies to limits the rest of us don’t even think about doing.  They go without.  They take a pass on opportunities that don’t fit in with the lifestyle of being an Olympian,

We remember them when they win medals and forget them if they don’t.  We want their autographs when they win and don’t even recognize them when they just take part in the Games.

For the record – here is what these remarkable men and woman did:

Melanie Booth; Bronze medal in Woman’s soccer

Scott Dickens, Men’s 100 m breaststroke, Men’s 200 m breaststroke, Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Mark Oldershaw; Bronze medal in 1×1000 m canoe sprint.

Colin Russell: Men’s 4×100 Freestyle relay, Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay.  Colin retired from Olympic competition this year.

Sinead Russell; Woman’s 100 m backstroke, Woman’s 200 m backstroke.

Brandon Wager; currently at the Paralympic Games

Susan Fraser brought her canoe paddle to the civic reception for the Olympians hoping that Mark Oldershaw would autograph it for her. He willingly signed the paddle which will probably never go into the water again.

The beauty of an electronic media is that what we write is on the web site for as long as we choose to keep it there – and we are thinking in terms of decades.  Among the memories will be the picture of Susan Fraser having her paddle signed by Mark Oldershaw. “What are you going to do with it now?” someone  asked. “I’m taking it to bed with me tonight” replied Fraser.  “My husband can sleep on the couch”.

Oldershaw was very generous in letting people handle his Bronze Medal and put it around their necks.  The scene in the city hall atrium was a public adoring and honouring their Olympians.

The Paralympic Athletes had 20 medals as of this reporting with five gold in the bag.  Brandon Wagner who plays basketball from his wheelchair learned his sport inAldershot.  He will be honoured by the city when  he returns from the games.


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