Thursday, February 3, 2011

True patriot's love

Was the fancy hat part of the secret deal Vancouver cut with the Russians to win the 2010 Winter Olympics? Vancouver 2010 chief John Furlong tours Sochi World, Russky Dom

Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics that Changed a Country is in stores now. The autobiography of VANOC CEO John Furlongwas written with Gary Mason.

Sadly, it's hardcover only. Furlong and publisher Douglas and McIntyre have missed a golden opportunity by neglecting to produce an e-book. The iPad and Kindle are changing the face of the publishing industry and VANOC claimed to be sustainable. But Furlong's memoir is constructed with dead trees, albeit Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper.

Few gold medal revelations are contained in the book. A secret deal with the Russians helped Vancouver win the 2010 Games. Late luger Nodar Kumaritashvili's family was to receive $150,000 in insurance payments. Furlong is no fan of the NDP's Carole James or Harry Bains.

But there are nuggets in every chapter.

Here are things that you probably never knew about Furlong.

Chariots of Fire is his favourite film. He’s seen it 20 times. He hasn't watched the Vancouver 2010 highlights video, which includes his speeches.

He suffers from migraine headaches. "Most days it's tolerable, some days it's terrible. But it is always there, a constant reminder of a heady time in my life when it all started" (during the 1978 Northern B.C. Winter Games).

Was Canada’s national squash champion on May 2, 1986 -- the day Expo 86 opened. Expo 86 closed Oct. 13, 1986, the day after his 36th birthday. He was born Oct. 12, 1950 in Clonmel, Ireland.

Mentor and VANOC chairman Jack Poole hosted FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2002 at his Mission ranch. Blatter came by helicopter for a steak BBQ. "We didn't ask for Sepp's vote, but we were all smiles when he told us we could count on him."

Furlong was named VANOC employee number one and paid $300,000 a year.

Cirque du Soleil was in the running to produce the opening and closing ceremonies. Founder Guy Laliberte wanted the opening ceremony’s theme to be about water and the world water crisis. Cirque eventually withdrew its bid. "We were looking for a partner, not just a contractor."

If Furlong had his way, slam poet Shane Koyczan would not have performed “We Are More” at the opening ceremony. Why? No humility and no French.

Furlong wanted Wayne Gretzky to be transported from B.C. Place Stadium to Jack Poole Plaza for the outdoor cauldron lighting in the basket on a helicopter. Security officials were not amused. Gretzky went by pickup truck.

He was raised on prison grounds: His father John was chief of the Irish jail system. Mother was Maureen. Brothers Jim, Eamonn, Brian and Terry and younger sister Rosemary, who was his closest sibling. Cousin Siobhan Roice died in an Ulster Volunteer Force Protestant terrorist bombing that Furlong wrote was on May 14, 1974 in Dublin (but the correct date of the Black Friday bombing was May 17, 1974).

His kids are Maria, John, Damien, Emma and Molly, who danced in the closing ceremony.

Patriot Hearts, however, is dedicated “To Catherine and the Canadian spirit.”

Catherine is not mentioned again until the final page of the acknowledgements.

That’s where the twice-married Furlong thanks "my dearest friend Catherine Bachand" for the "support, encouragement, compassion, love, deep loyalty and inspiration."

"Hers is a patriot heart. Thank you so much."

Bachand (below) was a VANOC employee. Furlong's executive assistant who became the head of the VANOC/Canadian Olympic Committee transition team.


Furlong appears Feb. 12 (9:30 a.m.) at the breakfast at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Chapters bookstore at Granville and Broadway (3 p.m.), Feb. 13 at the Whistler Public Library (3:30 p.m.) and Feb. 14 at Richmond Public Library's Brighouse branch (7:30 p.m.)

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