I was nine years old in 1978. I remember, that summer, entering the brand new Commonwealth Stadium and climbing up the endless stairs to my seat to watch the track and field events and a bunch of ceremonies. I remember seeing soldiers march and raise the Canadian Flag. And the music. I got the sense that Edmonton was a part of something bigger. My city connected me to the world. My career, which has involved sports, the military, and a lot of international travel, was launched that day.
I was a kid who loved everything to do with swimming and diving. I begged my big brother to take me to watch the diving events and I’ll never forget the first time I saw an athlete jump off the 10 metre tower. Later that same year I was in the Kinsmen pool on a school field trip. I mustered up the courage to climb to the top of that 10 metre tower. I stood on the edge and looked down. I imagined I was a world class athlete. All I had to do was to take that step into the air. It sure was a long way down to the water. Boy it looked a lot higher from up there. My knees were wobbly and my heart was racing. (It is racing even right now as I write this.) My friends were shouting at me to go for it.
I know how to swim. I love diving. I can do this.
I jumped. The wind rushing past my ears was so loud I can hear it today. And boy it seemed like forever before I hit the water. It hurt my feet. Next thing I knew I was deep in the water. I shouted at the top of my lungs under water, a muffled, “YES!” When I surfaced my friends were cheering and a couple of my friends who had dared me to dive wore very anxious looks on their faces. I had actually done it. Now it was their turn.
My kids today are little and they will be young teenagers in 2022. I would love for them to see the world open up to them, through a door in their own city. My parents’ generation had the courage and foresight to build something, a legacy. It was one of the most successful Commonwealth Games in the event’s history, and for good reason. Edmontonians do things differently.
Now it is our turn.
Edmonton is ready to take a leap. The 2022 Commonwealth Games will take us quickly and thrillingly in a direction we’re already going. The games will give us focus to continue to improve upon what we already have, to build new venues that we need and to activate our community around a compelling idea.
If you have the courage to take an idea to reality, to build, to make something, Edmonton is your city. Edmontonians know this. The Commonwealth games will bring people from around the world. And soon they will know this fact too.