Vanoc CEO John Furlong's speech to open the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games

Vanoc John Furlong's speech at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games:

On this historic occasion, we are proud to host the first Paralympic Winter Games ever staged on Canadian soil.

President Craven, in 2003 when the 10th Paralympic Winter Games were awarded to Vancouver and Whistler, we understood that you believed that we would be worthy ambassadors for the global cause of Paralympic sport.

That we would be champions for the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration, and equality. That through our efforts these Paralympic Games would be celebrated in the living rooms of Canada and across the world. That in our care, sport and athletes would prevail.

From that first day to this one we have poured our hearts and our souls into living up to the promises we made. Preparing magnificent Paralympic arenas and villages for the very best athletes so they can realize their life long dreams here in Canada.Today we at Vancouver 2010 are many thousands: strong, united, inspired, ready. We are the Blue Jackets.

Volunteers are at their posts ready to deliver the most memorable experience possible. You will know them by their warm smiles and their enthusiasm. As these 2010 Paralympic Games begin, let it not just be about our hard work or for that matter even the athlete achievements that will no doubt be unforgettable.

Let these Games also serve to honour and recognize men and women of sport the world over who have made it their personal mission in life to use sport to build better lives, to inspire children, to bring hope, and inspire peace. Men and women who have dedicated themselves to helping the remarkable athletes gathered here to achieve their dreams.

Here tonight and in every country where the Paralympic flag flies we are one family. Sport is our common language. And because so many in the world live in harm’s way, our message of peace through sport has never been more important.

To the Paralympic athletes of the world–the best ever–may the days ahead be exhilarating. From whatever continent you have come we welcome you to Canada--a country with a Glowing Heart. We are very excited to be your host.

To be here you have overcome so much, given so much, sacrificed so much. Your accomplishments are the result of driving yourselves to achieve what many would say is not achievable.

To you, impossible is just a word--a distraction. We know you will compete fairly and in a good spirit. Through your heroic efforts you are certain to inspire and lift us all. Youth everywhere are watching you, cheering for you--for someday they will try to be just like you.

While thousands will cheer you on in the stadiums, you can be assured that over 33 million Canadians are living this experience with you. You will feel their energy and their support every minute you are here.

So as these the 10th Paralympic Winter Games begin here in British Columbia, Canada, we of Vancouver 2010 wish you every success and we thank you for the hours, the days, the years you have poured yourselves into your dream of becoming Paralympic champions.

To the people of the Four Host First Nations and the Games host communities of Vancouver and Whistler, we thank you for your spirit and for again opening your hearts to the world. To the International Paralympic Committee, our many friends and partners, and the men and women in uniform–we thank you for your remarkable contribution to these Games. To all the fans and all those watching across Canada and around the world, thank you for your enthusiasm and spirit.

In a few short moments, we will witness the arrival of the Paralympic flame–a flame whose glow has touched many Canadians on its 10-day journey to this stadium. Tonight it will ignite unforgettable magic and prompt breathtaking athletics. I wish you all good luck. May this be the beginning of “the time of your life”.

And now, I am pleased to invite to the podium the president of the International Paralympic Committee and a good friend, Sir Philip Craven.



Al Grier

Mar 17, 2010 at 6:31pm

John Furlong is one of the most amazing men I've had the honour to listen to and observe. His work and accomplishments make him a candidate for Canada's Man-of-the-year. I was particularly disturbed at the unfair and unfounded adverse comments about him allowing the "Mountie" figures to be used in the Olympic closing ceremonies. It was a totally "in-fun" thing and those who saw fit to criticise should simply "get a life" - they're missing out on a lot.

Great work John - the country is extremely proud of you - as is the RCMP - of which I am a retired member.

Al Grier