Why would anyone sell an Olympic torch?

I was sickened to learn that some of the Olympic torch relay runners are selling their torch and uniform.

Martin Kvapal

I was sickened to learn that some of the Olympic torch relay runners are selling their torch and uniform.

Recently I had the opportunity to hold one of the Olympic torches and to have my photo taken with it. You could feel the patriotic energy coming from even an unlit torch. It was an honour and privilege just to hold it for a few seconds.

Many of the used, and unused, torches are being sold on EBay.

I contacted several of the EBay sellers that had listed their torch and uniform for sale, as I was curious as to why someone would part with such a significant and proud piece of memorabilia. Some of the sellers explained that they represented a charity for which any sale proceeds would benefit.

One seller explained that he had spent about $50,000 on renovating his family’s home to become more green and energy-efficient in order to be more environmentally friendly.

These reasons are all good, wonderful and respectful. However, the most common reason, and that the one that burns me, is that the torches were listed for sale so that the seller wanted to see what they could get for it and to see if they could make a bunch of money. Is nothing sacred?

How were these runners chosen? Did they lie on their torch relay submissions when they agreed to be even better Canadians?

What stunned me even more is that the sellers that I contacted didn’t even hide the fact that they were trying to get the most bucks for their bang. Sentiment and memories — priceless.

Like many other proud Canadians, I also submitted my name to be a 2010 Olympic torch relay runner.

I entered my name online through the Royal Bank of Canada promotion. Along with my submission, I vowed to be a better Canadian in some or several ways, such as being active in the local sporting community at a coaching level; however, like many others, I was not selected to participate in the relay.

Perhaps the Olympics or the torch relay is not as important to some as it is to others.

Maybe the Olympics mean different things to different people.

The Olympics were in my everyday routine for six years as I trained and competed in the sport of skeleton – firstly with the Canadian team and later with the Czech Republic team.

After a couple of years with the Canadian team, I pursued an alternate Olympic route with the Czech team as my chances for participating in the 2006 Turin Games would be greater given the depth of the Canadian team.

Ironically, for political reasons, the Czech Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation did not allow me to complete my final qualifying race. And that was that — dream erased.

As any athlete in such a position will tell you, it’s not easy to just turn it off after years of intense training, strict diet and routine.

I imagine it’s like coming off some types of medication too quickly or stepping off of an amusement park ride. In fact, such a lifestyle and regiment change sent me into somewhat of a mental depression.

All of a sudden the training, competition and accolades ceased.

I didn’t feel like the same person anymore.

It’s been four years now and the missed opportunity of Torino still seems to linger heavily in my mind.

Perhaps by participating in the 2010 torch relay I was looking for and hoping that one more Olympic connection would have helped me once and for all get over the past and move on.

For me, and I’m sure for many others, excluding the non-sentimental types on EBay, running with the Olympic torch and treasuring the memorabilia would be one for the archives.

Perhaps just the mere exercise of writing this letter and having a photo taken with the Olympic torch will have to suffice in the action of moving on.

Martin Kvapal

Red Deer

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