A flying Donovan Bailey led off for flag bearer Mark Oldershaw and 718 other Canadian athletes; Cirque du Soleil put on the show and basketball legend Steve Nash lit the cauldron.
The TO2015 Pan American Games are officially on.
Dramatically, Bailey dropped from the ceiling with the torch, in front of the reported 45,000 spectators. Then the athletes were ushered in. The 41-country parade represented the 6,100 athletes who will compete at TO2015. And it was pure energy. When Team Canada finally arrived, a healthy roar welcomed Mark Oldershaw and the Canadian flag.
The athletes who decided to attend were front row for the Cirque show, which blasted its way around what is usually the Blue Jays’ in-field. And really, for much of the impressive production, the ball diamond became a different stage entirely. There were acrobatics, feats of strength, even BMX riders soaring above the athletes. Cirque du Soleil, one of Canada’s artistic treasures, paid due respect to competitive sport.
There were other retired Olympians in the building. Simon Whitfield, Catriona Le May Doan, and Marnie McBean were among groups of famous Canadians carrying both the PASO and Olympic flags. After other pieces of ceremony, NBA player and local boy Andrew Wiggins threw his first flame-pass, to Steve Nash. The two-time MVP ran a short distance and lit the Pan Am cauldron.
Canada’s first summer games since Winnipeg had this event in 1999 have begun, competition continues on Saturday.