The London 2012 Olympics reminded me of how exciting it was to witness the 2010 Olympics in Whistler. But I was also reminded of the sacrifices athletes undertake to compete, and that sometimes things go wrong. Our 2010 Westcoast Olympic experience started off very differently than London's. Unfortunately, an athlete lost his life while pursuing his Olympic dreams in Whistler. I had never heard of Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili, but was deeply moved when he died at the age of 21 practising for his Luge event. The loss of his life was too great a price to pay.
I visited Whistler back in 2010 between the Olympics & Paralympics. The little village was nursing an Olympic hangover and slowly generating a buzz anticipating the Paralympics. On one of my walks along Village Stroll I discovered a small ad-hoc memorial set-up for Nodar next to the frozen river. There was a guest book, flags, and many items left behind in his memory.
I continue to be moved by the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili. As my eldest son nears 21, I think of a child never returning home and parents forever left with a hole in their hearts. Last spring when visiting Whistler I went searching for the quaint memorial by the river and was saddened that it had been removed. I later found a more permanent structure had been erected in his memory in the Olympic Plaza.
The flags and unused Olympic tickets left behind in his memory are now gone, but the touching guest book remains, tucked under the plaque. As a Mom I will likely continue to visit his memorial when I visit Whistler, and say a quiet prayer for his parents & family.
May he rest in peace, and all the best to athletes pursuing their dreams.