The XXI Olympic Winter Games will be held February 12-28, 2010 in the host city of Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Who will light Vancouver's Olympic flame?
Both past and current heroes are among the choices.
By David Klatt
When the Olympic flame finally emerges from the tunnel inside BC Place, we will be moments away from answering an especially symbolic question: Who will be the last person to receive the flame and light the Olympic cauldron? Rumors are already beginning to swirl in the host city.
Four distinguished Canadians make compelling cases for the honor.
One choice is Betty Fox, the mother of one of the most admired men in Canadian history.
When Terry Fox was 18, he was diagnosed with cancer. Chemotherapy forced an amputation of Fox's right leg, but the Vancouver native didn't let it slow him down. Three years later, in 1980, Fox set out on a mission to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.
Fox's pace was astounding. Running on a prosthetic leg, he logged one marathon per day continuously for more than 300 days. Canadian families followed Fox's 'Marathon of Hope' from their living rooms.
Terry Fox's mission was cut short when doctors discovered he'd been running with cancerous tumors in his lungs. Fox passed away ten months later, but Canadians continued to respond to his call for action with millions in donations and some of the country's highest humanitarian honors.
A Facebook campaign in support of Betty Fox is building momentum online. The group, which now has more than 125,000 members, was started by Trev Fisher. He remembers following Terry Fox's run on television when he was young.
"Usually an athlete lights the cauldron, but Betty Fox has done so much for this country. She has carried on his work for cancer research," says Fisher. "She defines what a true Canadian hero is."
A new Olympic award that bears Terry Fox's name will be handed out in Vancouver to the Olympian who best exemplifies Fox's mission.
Rick Hansen is also strong candidate to light the flame. At age 15, a car crash paralyzed Hansen from the waist down. Always the athlete, Hansen simply changed gears and went on to represent Canada in several Paralympic sports, winning medals in both the 1980 and 1984 Paralympic Games.
Hansen credits his friend and wheelchair basketball teammate Terry Fox as an inspiration.
Hansen currently runs the foundation that bears his name. He is actively involved in raising awareness of spinal cord injuries. Hansen is originally from British Columbia and he shared the title of 1983's Canadian Athlete of the Year with Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
'The Great One'
Distinguished former athletes have a history of lighting the flame and that makes Canada's most respected hockey player a contender. The NHL's all-time leading scorer, Wayne Gretzky, never won a gold medal for his country with his skates on.
But after more than half a century without hockey gold, Gretkzy managed Team Canada to the top of the podium in Salt Lake back in 2002. It goes without saying: to Canadians, his nickname 'The Great One' is not so much about hyperbole as it is rooted in the record books.
Speed skater Cindy Klassen
One of Canada's most decorated Olympians is still competing and while current Olympians aren't chosen frequently, it's still possible. Speed skater Cindy Klassen could be called on to open the Games.
In Torino, Klassen became the first Canadian to win five medals in a single Olympics. Her six total medals is also a Canadian record. Klassen has qualified to skate in the 3000m in Vancouver.
The most recent athlete to light the Olympic flame to open the Games she was competing in is Australia's Cathy Freeman in Sydney 2000.