Meet Natalia Mihai: Torch Bearer For The 2010 Games

torchPhoto: jp1958

With the Olympic kickoff less than a month away, Vancouver remains busy (and buzzing) as it prepares for opening day of the 2010 Winter Games on February 12th.

With organizing committees scrambling to make the deadline, there are still exciting events taking place leading up to the games.  And even though VANOC has officially moved to “plan B” (yikes!) due to the lack of snowfall at Cypress Mountain, committee officials appear confident that they will be ready in time for the February 12 opening ceremonies.

Included in some of the pre-game hype is the Torch Relay which has officially made its way into British Columbia as of yesterday. Lions head coach Wally Buono crossed the Alberta border into B.C. (check out the interactive map!).

Still to be announced is the final torch bearer who will light Olympic cauldron, although some people have narrowed it down to a few…with you guessed it, none other than Mr Hockey, Wayne Gretzky himself as a lead candidate.

And while the big names continue to make their torch carrying contributions, there are a lot of other hard-working everyday Canadians who are being given the honour as well.

Meet Natalia Mihai

NataliaA prime example would be Natalia Mihai, a Pan Pacific server, who will be carrying the Olympic flame on February 12th in Stanley Park.  Natalia has been at the hotel for the past 10 years and will represent Canada and her native country of Romania which she left at the age of 5.

Natalia is equally proud of the country she came from as well as the country which has provided a great life for her and her two young daughters.

When I sat down with her today at the Cafe Pacifica Restaurant overlooking the waterfront, I first asked her why she chose to sign up for the torch run and what it really meant to her:

“I decided to sign up for the Olympic Torch Run because I wanted to be part of something special and to represent my country.  The 2010 Olympics is something every Vancouverite will remember and I want to look back knowing I was a part of it.  I also did this for my two young daughters, and hope they will always remember this special day.”

When I asked her how she believes it will feel when she’s actually running, she laughed saying:

“I just get overwhelmed with emotions whenever somebody asks me what it will be like…I get anxious just thinking about it!  I know its only 300m so I plan on walking very very slowly!”

And when asked who she believes should be the final torch bearer:

“I feel Rick Hansen should be given the honour of carrying the final torch for Canada.  He has done so much for the disabled community as well as Canada and he is a great representative as he is a native of British Columbia as well.  I would definitely choose him!”

Natalia will be representing her country, family and the Pan Pacific on February 12th @ 7:20 am on Stanley Park Drive.  She will be the 24th runner of the day and will carry the torch for approximately 300m.

Be sure to come out and support Natalia and all of the runners on the final day of the torch relay before the opening ceremonies!