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Olympic Torch Burns With Love In British Columbia

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COURTENAY, B.C. — Two old flames passed the torch in a strange turn of events on Day 4 of the Olympic relay Monday morning.
  • Cora Pullin of Courtenay, B.C., thought she was dropping off her husband Al to carry the Olympic flame through Fanny Bay, about 190 kilometres northwest of Victoria on Vancouver Island.
  • But she no sooner arrived than Olympic officials said they were short a runner and asked if she could do it.
  • So, at the last minute, Pullin slipped into a white torchbearer’s uniform and, as the rain poured, she walked her 300-metre leg in street shoes.
  • She met her husband in the middle of the highway and the two passed the flame before exchanging — it’s fair to say — the most affectionate kiss of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay so far.
  • “It was fabulous,” Cora Pullin said. “I’m still shaking from this morning when they asked me to do this.”
  • It was already an emotional day for Al Pullin, a retired school administrator. He carried a picture in his pocket of longtime friend Bill Ross, a retired Comox, B.C., teacher who died last month.
  • “When he and I first met 38 years ago, he and I had a race the second day we met,” Pullin recalled. “A little macho, right? And he won. This time we’re going to cross the line together.”
  • Retired teachers and administrators lined the route in Fanny Bay to support Pullin and to remember Ross. John Clark, 62, held a sign that read “Run Billy Run.”
  • “I put him in the category of extraordinary human being and teacher,” Clark said. “He taught here for 30 years and inspired more kids than you’d ever want to know about. He had a natural grace to his teaching.”
  • Later in the day, the Olympic flame travelled north to Courtenay, where 83-year-old torch bearer Bent Harder said it was the most exciting moment of his nearly six decades in Canada.
  • The runner, cyclist, and skydiver carried the Olympic torch into Lewis Park before thousands of cheering spectators and lit the cauldron on stage.
  • As he ran through the crowd, five parachutists from 19 Wing Comox dropped from the sky, landing on the playing field.
  • “I’m a proud Canadian and a proud British Columbian,” said Harder, who was born in Denmark.
  • From Courtenay, the torch moved to Canadian Forces Base Comox where a team of people from the airbase ran with the torch.
  • “Today we’re offered an opportunity on a gold platter to be in the limelight and to voice how proud we are of the Canadian Forces and everybody involved in supporting it,” Col. Michel Lalumiere said.
  • Lalumiere and a team of 19 people — representing a cross-section of base personnel from search and rescue technicians and pilots to clerks, civilians and families — carried the torch.
  • Each person led the team before passing the torch and running back to the end of the line.
  • “It should have been 1,500 torchbearers,” Lalumiere said, “but we had to pick 20.”
  • Now in its fourth day, the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay is slated to cross Canada twice over 106 days, travel 45,000 kilometres and include 12,000 torchbearers.
Source: Victoria Times Colonist
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