Olympic torch's long journey at emotional end
Arnold Schwarzenegger carries torch along Stanley Park seawall
Last Updated: Friday, February 12, 2010 | 8:29 AM PT
The Olympic flame neared the end of its emotional journey on Friday afternoon, carried by dragon boat and voyageur canoe across Vancouver's False Creek, then through downtown Vancouver, where it awaits its last big role.
The relay officially wrapped up its 45,000-kilometre journey at the Four Host First Nations Pavilion on West Georgia Street opposite the CBC building at 1:45 p.m., where the torcher-bearer lit a cauldron in front of thousands of onlookers.
The flame will stay there until evening, when it will be carried into BC Place Stadium to light the giant cauldron, marking the climax of the opening ceremony and the official start of the Games.
Throughout the final day of the 106-day relay, emotions ran high among the thousands of people who turned out to cheer, sing, cry or protest as the torch passed through their Vancouver neighbourhoods.
Dozens of times, the crowds broke into spontaneous renditions of O Canada!
Protesters blocked relay
Some people used the relay as a chance to raise their concerns about poverty and homelessness. Organizers rerouted the relay Friday morning after protesters stopped it from passing through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Just after 9 a.m., organizers were forced to pause the large convoy of vehicles, runners and security personnel after running into the roadblock created by about 200 anti-Olympic protesters.A runner carries the Olympic flame through the streets of downtown Vancouver on Friday morning. (CBC)
By 9:40 a.m., the torch was rerouted around the roadblock, forcing organizers to skip a ceremony with veterans at the cenotaph and pick up the pace of the relay.
Downtown Eastside resident Robert Milton was carrying the torch at the time of the protest and said he was shocked when police told him he would be travelling a different way at the last minute.
"I had to go around the original route because of the protesters," he said. "The security guys were a bit freaked out and they didn't want to see me get in trouble. I did happen to miss my family unfortunately, but they found me."
The relay was reportedly rerouted again after encountering protesters in East Vancouver near Venebles Street and Commercial Drive. Many schoolchildren and others who had come out to see the flame told CBC News they were angry the torch was rerouted.
Schwarzenegger draws a crowd
The protests were in sharp contrast to the crowds of thousands who turned out before sunrise for a chance to see California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger carry the Olympic torch along the Stanley Park seawall on the star-studded final day of the cross-Canada relay.Police and protesters reach a standoff as the torch relay passes through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. (CBC)
Schwarzenegger began his leg with the flame at 7:03 a.m., just as the sun began to come up, surrounded by hundreds of screaming fans.
Security guards cleared the way for the former movie star and bodybuilder as he walked the flame to Brockton Point Lighthouse overlooking Vancouver and handed it off to former British Olympian Sebastian Coe, head of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, in an extended photo-op for journalists.
But the enthusiasm of the crowds turned out to be too much for the small security team and Schwarzenegger and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell were trapped by the mob before the team finally managed to clear a way out.California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, passes the Olympic flame to Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Organizing Committee, on the last day of the relay. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
On the final day, the torch-bearing lineup included Rolly Fox, the father of Terry Fox, Walter Gretzky, the father of retired hockey great Wayne Gretzky, legendary Vancouver big band leader Dal Richards and sports stars Stan Smyl, Beckie Scott, Bob Lenarduzzi and Lui Passaglia.
While the identity of the final torchbearer remains a secret, it is widely speculated that Wayne Gretzky has been chosen to carry the torch into BC Place.
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