Photos: Flashback to a decade ago, when Richmond revelled in the 2010 Olympics

From the torch relay electrifying the sedate streets of Richmond to party central at Heineken House in the O Zone and the heart-thumping thrill of witnessing Canadian medal winners at the Olympic Oval.

It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago today the Winter Olympics came to town and transformed Richmond from a relatively mundane city into the place to be in the Lower Mainland.

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For 17 days, the world looked in on the city with a telescopic lens and it was no longer a “suburb of Vancouver.”

As well as TV crews from all over the planet, Richmond was invaded by a sea of orange, in the form of an army of Dutch fans who arrived in their thousands to support their long track speed skating heroes.

It all kicked off with the unforgettable Olympic Torch relay through the streets of Richmond three days before the Games officially began in Whistler.

Travelling through Lulu Island, 70 torchbearers – including Richmondites the late Mary Gazetas and Shirley Olafsson, Olive Bassett, Jim Kojima, Bob Mukai, Jacqueline Roy, Al Sakai, Walter Wu, Novell Thomas, Jimmy van Ostrand and Bill Jaffe – carried the iconic symbol for 21 kilometres of roads lined with tens of thousands of excited locals.

It then travelled by Canada Line to Richmond-Brighouse Station, where it was eventually passed onto one of Richmond’s most famous sons, Rick Hansen.

Few among the 30,000 crowd at the City of Richmond’s O Zone torch celebration at Minoru Park will forget Hansen’s grand entrance, with the flame secured to his wheelchair, before making his way onstage to light the cauldron.

When the Games itself finally began, the next 17 days or so were a whirlwind of entertainment at the O Zone, courtesy of some top bands and wonderful exhibits.

If you managed to get into the completely packed Heineken House (AKA Minoru Arenas) during a Dutch medal party, the atmosphere was something Richmond will likely never see again.

As for the Olympic action, we were blessed to witness some world record-breaking long track speed skating performances at the Oval, despite the facility’s much-maligned “slow ice.”

And when the Canadian skaters grabbed medals against the world’s best, the roof almost lifted off Richmond’s prized venue.

Who can forget, also, the hot spot – and make-shift meeting place during the Olympics - that was “Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head.”

Despite being labelled by some as “glorifying communism and the controversial leaders,” the work of art at the corner of Elmbridge and Alderbridge ways was created by the Chinese Gao Brothers, who consciously chose to criticize the political environment of their homeland.

The Richmond News even got in on the Olympic act with its “2010 Daily Report,” which was a rare an ultimately award-winning foray into the daily newspaper business.

Every day during the Games, the News churned out the latest results from the Oval and Whistler, the sights and sounds at the O Zone and what was happening that day.

It was a massive undertaking for a then bi-weekly publication to become a daily – as well as continuing to print its regular editions – but it was an effort that was recognized with a prestigious MA Murray Award the following year.

Whether or not you think the multi millions the city spent on co-hosting the 2010 Olympic Games, few can deny it was a fortnight or so most will never forget.


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