Lighting the way

Brodie Thomas
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Simms chosen as local Olympic torchbearer

There's no question that Gail Simms is qualified to be an Olympic torchbearer.

She's so qualified that she was selected by two separate groups to carry the torch on its journey to Vancouver.

Mrs. Simms will carry the torch from Skeard's Lane to the Olympic celebrations at 10 Marine Drive, near Scotts Cove Park, on Nov. 15.

Gail Simms is an avid jogger and on Nov. 15 she will get to carry the Olympic flame as she jogs though Port aux Basques

There's no question that Gail Simms is qualified to be an Olympic torchbearer.

She's so qualified that she was selected by two separate groups to carry the torch on its journey to Vancouver.

Mrs. Simms will carry the torch from Skeard's Lane to the Olympic celebrations at 10 Marine Drive, near Scotts Cove Park, on Nov. 15.

The retired teacher filled out an application to become a torchbearer last fall. The Vancouver Olympic Committee contacted her in the spring and offered her a spot on the route near Glace Bay, Cape Breton.

Mrs. Simms accepted the offer, so she was surprised to get a call from Andrew Parsons, chair of the local torch relay celebration, offering her the chance to carry the torch in Port aux Basques.

While most torchbearers are selected by the Vancouver Olympic

Committee, each town hosting a celebration was allowed to choose a local citizen to carry the torch and light a ceremonial cauldron in a small re-creation of what will happen at the opening ceremonies.

"I told him I felt very honored that they had chosen me to do this, but in the meantime I had been chosen to do it in Nova Scotia," said Mrs. Simms.

She decided that she would much rather carry the torch in her hometown and after some calls to the Olympic committee, her spot was changed from Cape Breton to Port aux Basques.

Mr. Parsons said many residents were considered for Port aux Basques' torchbearer, but after much discussion, the committee decided on Mrs. Simms.

"She, to us, exemplified what the Olympic ideals and ethos are meant to be," said Mr. Parsons.

For the committee, Mrs. Simms embodied both an athlete and a volunteer who has promoted physical activity through her teaching and leadership, but also by example.

Mrs. Simms, a retired physical education teacher, has been running all her life. She said she finds it is a relaxing pastime where she can be alone with her thoughts.

Her hobby has taken her to many competitions. She has run seven marathons, entered the Telly Ten in St. John's four times, and competed in the local Race to the Sea among other races. In two of her seven marathons, she raised a total of $11,000 for arthritis research.

Aside from being a gym teacher and coach for numerous school teams, she participated as an athlete in two Canada Games. In 1975 she was captain of the provincial girls volleyball team at the Canada Winter Games in Lethbridge, Alta. In 1979 she competed in pairs badminton at the Brandon, Man. Canada Games.

Mrs. Simms is also a certified figure skating coach who taught local students for 20 years.

Being a torchbearer will put Mrs. Simms in a rather small group of people nationally. About 12,000 people will carry the torch as it winds its way through Canada's 13 provinces and territories.

Torchbearers are given official jumpsuits to wear while they carry the torch. They have the option of buying the torch that they carry, and they also have access to special merchandise not available to the general public. Mrs. Simms will not have to purchase her torch. As the town's choice for torchbearer, her torch will be given to her as a gift.

Mrs. Simms said she had to keep her selection secret for months. She is now getting more and more excited as the day approaches.

She still isn't sure what made her want to be a torchbearer in the first place, but she has one idea.

"I've already been in the Canada Games in two sports, so I guess this is as close I'm going to come to the next level," she said with a laugh.

reporter@gulfnews.ca




Torch facts

° The Olympic flame was lit in Olympia, Greece on Oct. 22 by rays of the sun.
° This year's torch relay will be the longest in Olympic history, covering over 45,000 kilometres.
° The journey across Canada will take 106 days and will take the flame through over 1,000 communities.
° Approximately 90 per cent of Canada's population lives within a one-hour drive of the torch's route.
° Each torch bearer will carry their own personal torch, and the flame will be passed in an unbroken chain of 12,000 people.
° The torch was designed by Canadian aerospace company Bombardier with assistance from the Vancouver Olympic Committee.
° The torch weighs 1.6 kilograms (3.5 pounds) and is 94 centimetres long.
° The flame is fueled by a blend of propane, isobutane and hydrocarbons.

Organizations: Vancouver Olympic Committee, Bombardier

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, Vancouver, Cape Breton Canada Marine Drive Scotts Cove Park Glace Bay Nova Scotia St. John's Lethbridge Olympia Greece

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Frank
    June 28, 2010 - 14:29

    Congratulations Mrs. Simms. I carried the Olympic Torch in St. Therese , Quebec on December 28, 1986 for the Winter Olympics in Calgary (1987) It was the original torch that travelled the long journey from Greece. It was a very special moment in time that I will never forget. What I enjoyed most about carrying the torch was to see the expressions on the faces of people who wanted to touch it.
    There were many tears shed that day as we all felt proud to be Canadian. My little daughter Valerie looked me in the eyes and said' Je t' aime beacoup Papa . Along my route I saw a Veteran standing in salute, I broke my pace, came close to him and shook his hand and remarked, sir, I'm here today because of you. It was all a thrill of a lifetime.

    Good Luck Gail, enjoy one of the special journey's of our lifetime.

    Frank Blackwood
    Olympic Flame Torchbearer
    Calgary Olympics 1987

  • Lorraine
    June 28, 2010 - 14:29

    Congratulations Gail on this wonderful opportunity. I am so proud of you and I now can brag that I have a cousin who is a torchbearer. I wish I could be there to witness it but I will watch for it on the NTV news.

    Love Lorraine