Fencing Plays Prominent Role at Canadian Olympic Excellence Day
July 11 – On the country’s biggest Olympic stage since the 2010 Vancouver Games, Quebec fencers from all over the province put on a marvellous showing for the tens of thousands of spectators and VIP’s who were in attendance at Thursday's Olympic Excellence Day.
The day-long event included various special visits for International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. Bach, a member of the German foil team that won gold at the 1976 Montreal Games, was the day’s guest of honour; he spoke at the Palais des congress in the morning, and followed that with a visit to the CEPSUM at the Université de Montréal, where he visited the scene of his ’76 Olympic glory, the darkened arena complete with a podium, with the German flag hung directly above its highest rise, reserved for gold medalists, while two junior fencers re-enacted his most famous bout.
Bach was later awarded an honorary degree from the university, where more young fencers partook in the day’s festivities by creating an arch for Bach to walk under before the ceremony.
Finally, all eyes turned to the corner of Réné-Levesque and Beaver Hall in downtown Montreal, where thousands congregated to watch demonstrations and try their hand at various Olympic disciplines, including trampoline, gymnastic, beach volleyball, hockey and fencing. The fencing demo, which was emceed by former Olympian and Pan Am champion Philippe Beaudry, was a hit with children and parents alike, many who tried their hand at the sport on custom-made targets while taking in a spectacular team relay demonstration by some of Quebec’s finest young fencers.
The night was capped off and highlighted by a video projected on the COC building commemorating Olympic past Olympic champions and the three Canadian Olympic Games, followed by the first lighting of the Olympic rings at the top of the building, which was accompanied by a fireworks show.
The Olympic rings will stand as a reminder of Montreal’s place in Canadian Olympic history, while also serving as a source of motivation for past, present and future Canadian Olympians.