A Watery-eyed and Wonderful First Week at Canada Olympic House

The first week of operation at Canadian Olympic House (COH) has been electric and emotion packed.

Billed as a “home away from home” for family and friends of Olympians, COH has become the ‘it’ place to be. Medallists, athletes, and their moms and dads have been regular visitors, while movie stars, royalty, politicians and astronauts have come to check out the action.

Guests at COH received a pleasant surprise when Prince Harry came by on Day 6 to meet and congratulate members of the Canadian Olympic Team. ‘Sex and the City’ star Kim Cattrall, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and TV personality Debbie Travis have also stopped by.

Each time a Canadian reaches the podium, a medal celebration is held at COH to recognize the athletes and their coaches and the entire support cast that played a role in the success.

The Canadian Tenors brought the House down with their haunting rendition of O’ Canada as celebration surrounded Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans after they won the first medal of the Games.

Antoine Valois-Forte and Christine Girard’s parents joined in celebrating their son and daughter’s bronze medals in Judo and Weightlifting respectively.

Best friends Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion were at COH to cheer on teammates Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans during the first medal celebration, and returned three days later for their turn in the spotlight after winning bronze in 10m synchronized diving.

Quebec singing sensation Marie Mai’s performance had the men’s and women’s eight rowers break out in dance during their dual silver medal celebration.

Brent Hayden got choked up as he thanked his fiancée, Nadina Zarifeh, and officially announced his retirement, surrounded by fellow Canadians, during an event at COH to honour him and Ryan Cochrane for their medals in swimming.

COH has provided the Canadian feed of television coverage so guests can watch and support Team Canada. Many laughs and tears have been shared and shed over the course of the week.

Before the Opening Ceremonies, spoken word artist Moe Clark performed a poem she wrote for the Canadian Olympic athletes called ‘Becoming Hero’ live for guests gathered at COH.

The photo booth has seen continuous action with COH guests donning crazy Canadian Olympic Team hats and wigs while mugging for the camera.

P&G has helped to make COH guests feel at home in London by pampering the Olympians’ family members with complementary shaves or hair styling and make-up.

Molson has quenched everyone’s thirst, while General Mills has kept the crowd well fed with familiar comfort food like Cheerios and M&M’s (a COH favourite).

Another popular venue at COH has been the HBC store which has seen the popular Canadian Olympic Team gear fly off the shelves.

Helping the COC staff to create the buzz at COH are more than 70 enthusiastic volunteers from across Canada and London.

There is no shortage of excellence in ‘Canada’s’ house in London and the pride of an entire nation.

Marg McGregor and Kristina Velan