So far, seven people have been announced as torchbearers when the 2019 Canada Olympic Games torch goes through Olds on Jan. 31.
The Games take place in Red Deer Feb. 15 to March 3, 2019.
Current and former Olds residents named as torchbearers in Olds are Jon Ahlgrim; Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper; Olympic wrestler Danielle Lappage; Robert McBeath, brother of the late local hockey and lacrosse player Ryan McBeath; Special Olympics athlete Mark Mengersen; former NHL hockey player Jay Rosehill; and former Olds College president Tom Thompson.
They’re among more than 100 people who will carry the torch across the country, described by organizers as “inspiring Canadians.”
The MNP Canada Games Torch Relay begins Oct. 4 from the centennial flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The torch will go through nearly 50 communities before arriving in Red Deer for opening ceremonies on Feb. 15, 2019.
The names of more torchbearers will be announced in the coming weeks. Names of the final torchbearers will be revealed during the opening ceremonies.
More than 900 torchbearer nominations were received and reviewed by 2019 Canada Winter Games officials between May 14 and June 30.
“The quality and number of nominations was truly impressive,” 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair Lyn Radford said during an announcement Sept. 4 in Red Deer.
Following is a look at torchbearers who will be travelling through Olds, as provided by Games organizers.
“Jon Ahlgrim, well known in town for collecting bottles all over the community, is a permanent, positive fixture in the heart of Olds. He shows everyone what hard
work and commitment can accomplish,” a release says.
“His work ethic has won him many citizenship awards. Community dedication and the name Jon go hand-in-hand for the people who are neighbours to him.”
Organizers note Cooper served as the interim leader of the United Conservative Party before its current leader, Jason Kenney, was chosen this past spring.
Cooper is currently the official Opposition critic for democracy and accountability, as well as community
and social services.
Organizers note he supports and volunteers with many local initiatives, including 4-H and the Rotary Club of Olds.
While growing up in Olds, Lappage was introduced to wrestling and instantly loved it.
Over the years, she won several university and national titles, a junior world title, the world university
championship and Commonwealth Games championship.
Lappage made the Olympic team for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Unfortunately though, she tore a hamstring and had to withdraw.
Lappage is now focused on winning the world championships Oct. 17-21 in Budapest, Hungary, then qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
She is also studying law at the University of Calgary.
McBeath is carrying the torch in memory of his brother, Ryan, who passed away March 13 in a two-vehicle collision near Torrington.
At the time of his passing, McBeath, 17, was in Grade 12 at Olds High School and served as captain
of the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs Midget AAA hockey team.
He had joined the Drumheller Dragons as an affiliate player, scoring his first AJHL goal in January.
“He was admired for his drive and determination in hockey and in school,” torchbearer organizers say.
“When people first meet Mark, they see his disability, Down syndrome. This is not who he is,” torchbearer organizers say.
He volunteers in his community and participates in 12 sports.
Not only that, Mengersen has qualified to compete at the World Games in Abu Dhabi.
This summer, he won two gold and two silver medals during the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Games Antigonish, N.S.
Mengersen says sport has done a lot for him.
“It has taught me to make goals in life; to be a good person and a good friend. It gives
courage. It is fun, exciting and you learn lots,” he says.
Rosehill grew up in Olds and played minor hockey there until he was 16.
He played for the Olds Grizzlys Junior A hockey club before being drafted by the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rosehill played for several NHL teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers.
Rosehill is retired from hockey and is a volunteer firefighter. He also coaches minor
hockey in the community.
In addition to serving as president of Olds College for 16 years, Thompson has done many other things.
He was president of the 1995 Canada Games Host Society and helped organize the
“Rider Pride” campaign in Saskatchewan.
For all his works and his drive to encourage innovation, Thompson received the 2014 Gold Award of Excellence in Governance from the World Federation of Colleges & Polytechnics.