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Vancouver Mayor Takes Olympic Flag For A Spin In His Custom Wheelchair
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 27, 2006

TORINO, ITALY--About five hundred million viewers watching Sunday's Olympic Games Closing Ceremonies were treated to something you don't see every day.

After an eight-minute Canadian segment inviting the world to "Come Play with Us in 2010", the Olympic flag was passed from Torino Mayor Sergio Chiamparino to Vancouver, British Columbia Mayor Sam Sullivan.

Sullivan, who has been paralyzed below the neck for the last 27 years, accepted the flag in a specially built steel holster attached to his motorized wheelchair.

Then he did a few wheelies, spins and "donuts" as the crowd cheered.

Sullivan, the first quadriplegic mayor to participate in the ceremonial passing of the Olympic flag, had resisted suggestions that he allow an assistant to wave the flag for him.

"I have always throughout my life believed that we should do whatever we can on our own and as a person with a disability," Sullivan told CTV last week.

He said that most reporters appear astonished that he became mayor even though he uses a wheelchair.

"Some people do consider disability as a tragedy," he told the LA Daily News. "I look at it as a career move."

"A lot of them are saying 'a quadriplegic as a mayor, that could never happen where we come from.' And I say Canadians are different. They're unlike any other citizens, you know . . . we have citizens who are very open-minded and progressive and generous and that's the message that I'll be bringing to the world."

During an interview with Al Roker of NBC's Today, Sullivan said: "Every year we are enriched by new people from so many diverse parts of the world. When the world does arrive in 2010 for the Olympics and the Paralympics they're going to find the world's already here."

At a press conference last week, Sullivan joked: "People have wondered at the wisdom of sending Vancouver's worst skier to Torino to accept the flag,'' referring to the fact that he was paralyzed in a skiing accident when he was 19.

The 2006 Paralympic Winter Games are scheduled in Torino from March 10 through March 19.

"Vancouver mayor gets set to accept Olympic flag" (CTV)
"Ability over disability" (LA Daily News)
"Vancouver mayor to wave Olympic flag from his wheelchair" (CBC News)
"Olympic flag handover inspires, spinal cord advocate says" (CBC News)
IX Paralympic Winter Games


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