Canada and the United Kingdom have strong relationships based on our shared history and heritage. Elizabeth II, as Head of State, opened the Montreal Games and will also open this year’s London 2012 Olympic (27 July 2012) and Paralympic Games (29 August 2012). But this is only one example of the strong connection and Canada’s impact on the Games.
Here are seven ways in which a strong Canadian influence is leaving its mark on London 2012.
1. Canadian star is part of London’s Olympic festival – there is a particular focus on William Shakespeare’s work during the London 2012 Festival. Rufus Wainwright composed three Shakespearean sonnets, which he performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra as part of a weekend in March 2012, to celebrate orchestral music across Britain.
2. Canadian coaches support Team GB hopefuls – Biz Price came to the British synchronised swimming team with 17 years experience behind her as the Canadian National Coach. She has transformed the team, which now has the potential to win a medal in this year’s Games.
Ken Shields has been pivotal in shaping Canadian Basketball and is now coaching Team GB.
Another internationally-renowned Canadian, Derek Evelyn, is coaching the Team GB athletics team, as well as managing the 2012 National Performance Centre in Loughborough, the chosen pre-games training location for Team GB.
3. Canadian trade opportunities showcased at Olympic-inspired Business Summit – the UK Government is running a Global Business Summit programme during the Games to showcase Britain as a key destination for global investors.
Over 600 Canadian businesses, like Thomson Reuter and McCain, operate already in the UK. HootSuit Media Inc, the popular Twitter hosting platform based in Vancouver, has now announced its plans to expand to Tech City, in London’s East End, close to the London 2012 Olympic Park.
They are joining an illustrious crowd. Companies such as Cisco Systems, Facebook, Google and Vodafone are among those who have committed already to invest in this area, which aims to become a world-leading technology city to rival Silicon Valley.
4. Canadians ensure spectators at London 2012 have a great experience – after being involved in the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Kristin Carpenter is now overseeing operations at Horse Guards Parade, the home to the beach volleyball event. She makes sure that ticketing and seating arrangements match up and training schedules for athletes at the venue are co-ordinated.
5. Canadians carrying the Olympic flame to London – Joel Lightman, from Toronto, is passionate about music. As a professional musician, Joel has worked tirelessly with a number of charities, such as WhyHunger, to coordinate donation generating musical events including staging awareness events for World AIDS Day. In pursuit of his passions, Joel has contributed more than $30,000 to SOS Children’s Villages. Joel was one of 8,000 torchbearers who carried the Olympic flame 8,000 miles through the UK.
Another inspirational Canadian is Natalie Cook. She has been involved in amateur sport and has guided the careers of many of Canada’s top Olympic Games athletes. As an executive and volunteer, she worked on five previous Olympic Games – London 2012 is Natalie’s sixth Olympic Games. On 22 July, Natalie carried the torch in its journey from Lewisham to Wandsworth.
6. Canadian celebrations in London – Canada Day was celebrated in Trafalgar Square on 1 July. It marked the 145th anniversary of the nation’s founding. There was a line-up of live performances and international artists from Canada.
And during the London 2012 Games, Canada House, just steps from Buckingham Palace, will give the families of Canadian athletes a place to socialise and relax.