Vancouver relief as Bilodeau takes gold
Monday 15 February 2010
Vancouver exploded in wild celebration and exhaled a huge sigh of relief on Sunday after moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau became the first Canadian to strike Olympic gold at home.
Denied a place at the top of the podium at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and again at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Bilodeau finally delivered the golden moment Canadians had long craved, touching off a night of revelry while driving a nail into talk of a Canadian Olympic curse.
"We came down here because we think the Olympic rings floating in the harbour will turn gold tonight," said Laurie Harnett as she and her husband Frank walked towards the Olympic flame burning on the Vancouver waterfront. "It was just awesome."
"I almost couldn't watch," added her husband, wearing a Canadian Olympic hockey jersey."
Gold fever and unseasonably warm weather pulled thousands of Vancouverites and Olympic visitors into the downtown core packing streets and turning Robson Square into party central.
At the Royal Canadian Mint pavilion a queue of people snaked its way up Granville Street as thousands waited patiently for up to four hours for a chance to hold an Olympic gold medal on home soil - something no Canadian had been able to claim until Bilodeau ended the drought.
"It's been like this for seven hours," said Mint employee Tony Proske. "We've been packing them in all day. People just want to touch the Olympic medals."
Around the corner thousands more were lined up outside the official Olympic outlet while others jammed cafes and bars or any place with television to watch the men's moguls final.
A day rich with anticipation and anxiety reached a climax when a roar swept across the Olympic city when Frenchman Guilbaut Colas, the top finisher in the qualifying round and the last man onto the course, could not beat Bilodeau's score.
Groups of people waving Canadian flags and wearing red wool Olympic mittens raced up and down the streets screaming "Canada gold, Canada gold".
At the Olympic cauldron, its flames glowing orange against Vancouver's first blue sky since the rain-dogged Games began; people hugged and happily took pictures of each other. A few, overcome by the moment, even shed a tear.
But just as quickly as the party started it was over, the cheers giving way to smiles that hinted at relief more than excitement.
Having won the elusive gold medal, the focus will now shift to Canada's larger and more ambitious objective of finishing the Vancouver Games top of the final medal table.
"Now we can kick ass," said one reveller and his friend waving a large Canadian flag as they made their way up Granville Streets to cheers.
West Ham vs Arsenal match report: Sam Allardyce fumes at referee as Arsenal push on towards top four
Tottenham vs Manchester United match report: Hugo Lloris blocks Manchester United from putting pressure on Premier League title rivals
Liverpool vs Swansea preview: 'Jonjo Shelvey is lazy, he needs to wise up,' says Garry Monk
Arsenal transfer news: William Carvalho to be subject of £20m bid
West Ham 1 Arsenal 2 player ratings: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? Andy Carroll? Alexis Sanchez? Who was the star man?
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Douglas Carswell tells Ukip to stop blaming foreigners as youth poll shows Nigel Farage is even less popular than Nick Clegg