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Vancouver, Canada (28 February 2010) - Les McDonald, founding president of International Triathlon Union,  was honoured with an Olympic Order on the final day of the 122nd IOC  Session held during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in ITU's hometown of  Vancouver. The Olympic Order is the highest award presented by the IOC  and is given to individuals who demonstrate distinguished contributions  to the Olympic Movement.

 

McDonald, who served as President of  the ITU from its inception in 1989 until 2008, is largely credited with  the inclusion of triathlon in the Olympic Programme, which made its  debut at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

 

"Receiving Olympic  Order is a tremendous honour and I would like to thank all of those who  gave their support," McDonald said. "With this, and the election of ITU  President Marisol Casado to the IOC, it has been a historical past few  weeks for the sport."

 

ITU President Casado, who was elected as an  IOC member in Vancouver on February 12, was on hand at the Session to  congratulate her predecessor.

 

"On behalf of the ITU and the  entire triathlon community I would like to congratulate Les for this  honour. His tireless work ethic was vital in growing the sport of  triathlon and on its inclusion in the Olympic Programme," Casado said.  "We look forward to carrying this momentum through 2010 and beyond as we  push for triathlon's continued growth, particularly among youth."

 

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The press release was issued by the ITU.

 

For more on the inclusion of triathlon into the Olympic program, see this three-part story.

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One of the most uplifting human interest stories I’ve seen during the Olympic Games coverage was the piece on the Gander International Airport that ran on February 27th, done by NBC’s Tom Brokaw.

 

The Gander airport (as well as my others in Newfoundland and mainland Canada) played critical roles during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. When the U.S.A. closed its airspace, transatlantic flights had to be rerouted. Some were turned back to their origination airport; but others were too far westbound to turn back.

 

I believe Brokaw said that the population of Gander was 10,000 people and the town had two law enforcement officers. The town did an astounding job of opening their resources, homes and hearts to over 6,000 travelers (I think Brokaw said 6,600?) unable to make it to their U.S.A. destinations. Imagine a volume of people that equals about 65% of your total city population, appearing unexpectedly on your doorstep one day. Could your city handle the job?

 

I’ve searched the NBC site to see if they plan to post or rerun the story. I haven’t found anything yet. When I do, I’ll let you know.

 

It is well worth watching high-quality, good people in action.

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