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  • Stan Manu

Winter Olympics in Vancouver

Greetings again and Malo e Lelei to everyone. Happy Valentine's Day also to you all, which happens to coincide with Chinese New Year too!

Over the last few weeks, I have been enjoying reading the news from our other reporters, and now I feel I have something to share in return. But 'goodos' to my bro Hiko for keeping us informed and always entertaining us with news from the Lalo Kalosipani.

It's been a while since my last post. I'm sure some of you have been thinking about us and how we have been doing thus far this new year. We're doing fine, really. My wife Jay continues to work hard at her clinic while I enjoy (I really am!) spending my time with our little boy Sebastian. He's now 20 months old, and growing. On a good note also, and with my residency now approved, I'm starting a part-time teaching job next month and hopefully get to find a full-time job later this year.

The big news here, and as some of you already know, is that the Winter Olympics has started already and is now into its fourth day tomorrow. The current atmosphere here in the Vancouver area which includes Richmond where we now live is one full of excitement. Downtown Vancouver or Richmond for that matter has not seen this kind of excitement before where most main streets are blocked for pedestrians and people are partying well into the night. Even out in our area, just south of Vancouver and where the main Airport is, it is packed with visitors from outside British Columbia and from around the world.

But these Olympics have already been marked with the death of one of the Georgian athletes during a luge training run the morning of the Opening Day Ceremony last Friday. The athlete sadly died after being thrown from his luge sled at nearly 90mph and catapulted into a nearby exposed steel beam. I'm glad Tonga appears not to be in this competition. Some of you may recall that a Tongan was selected (apparently a national trial was held at the Mata-ki-'Eua site!) and sponsored to train for the last two years in Germany for these Olympics. This training was well reported and followed by the media in Tonga because it would have been the first Tongan to participate in the Winter Olympics. I believe our Tongan hopeful couldn't crack the qualification mark to make it here (One time Matangi Tonga Online reported that the Tongan was 47 in an international luge competition, out of a field of 52 competitors, and was only behind the leader by 2 seconds. For your info: that's a distance in luge-language of about 100 metres where top athletes can travel up to a speed close to 100mph! Oh, and today, two Germans won the Gold and Silver in the men's luge competition.). Well, may be next time for Tonga. There are however other athletes, esp. from the African countries, who were trained in the Nordic countries and are now here representing their countries for the first time.

Today has been a special day for Canada – it recorded its first home Gold medal by a Canadian in the Olympics, Summer or Winter. That means there was no Gold medal won in either the 1976 Montreal's Summer Olympics or the 1988 Calgary's Winter Olympics. But this one seems special for all Canadians. There is a great sense of nationalism here right now and hope for a huge success in these Olympics. A sea of the red maple leafs can be seen everywhere – cars, houses, peoples, TV coverage, etc. However, nothing can be more important for the Canucks than their hockey. They expect nothing less than Golds in these Olympics (or any major competition!) from their women and men's hockey teams. While they have the teams to do it, the likes of USA in women's and Russia in men's hockey will post a huge challenge for them. Let's just hope the best team wins.

Anyway, we're trying to take the opportunity as a family to enjoy the festivities as much as we can even if it means only getting to walk around downtown or near the Speed Skating Olympic Oval here in Richmond. When we arrived back from Fiji last June, the tickets for the events were all sold out, and were expensive! Right now it is crazy everywhere esp. downtown. There are also protesters who are continually trying to make their voice heard. A riot actually broke out yesterday downtown but quickly controlled. There is still more of this to come they say. Consequently we may stick to hanging around here in Richmond where it is peaceful and host to speed skating events. Unfortunately, the Dutch fans have already descended here because of their crazy love of speed skating. They now even have a special Heineken House in Richmond that is open every day and night primarily for anyone with a Dutch passport. More than a thousand people are reported dressed colourfully in orange (the color of the Dutch royal family) and making all sorts of noise everyday even down the streets. I thought the Kiwis and the Fijians are crazy about their rugby – the speed-skating nuts from Holland can claim their fans to be the best! For more about Richmond and the Crazy Dutch, check out someone's Postcard Report on Richmond and a Time Article about the crazy Dutch fans here in Richmond.

Much love to you all, and may you all have a great week.

'Ofa atu,

Stan, Jay & Sebastian Jr.

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