February 13, 2006
Sunohara delivers present from Turin
HIMANI EDIRIWEERA -- Toronto Sun

Thousands of miles away in Turin, Vicky Sunohara found the perfect birthday present for her brother Rob -- the first goal of an Olympic hockey game and a mention on national TV.

Within the first five minutes of the game against Russia, Sunohara, of the Canadian women's hockey team, lit up the score light for her brother, who celebrated his 41 birthday yesterday.

It was also her first goal in Turin. The team went on to win 12-0.

"Who are the other 11 goals for? And what about the other 16?" Rob quipped. "Really, I can't say how I'm excited about this. It's great. It was a very nice thing to do."

Rob, one of hundreds of family members left behind by Olympians from the GTA, said the birthday wish from Sunohara, who won gold with the national team in Salt Lake City and silver in Nagano, was a nice surprise.

Vicky's uncle Paul couldn't be more proud. While he wished he was in Turin with her, he had to settle for watching her victories on TV.

"Vicky is our hero," Paul said about his niece, who lives two blocks from him.

"People don't know how hard she works, seven days a week. She is so committed and there's no rest."

Nolan Duke, husband of defenceman Becky Kellar, 31, watched yesterday's game from their Burlington home with their baby Owen on his lap.

"She phones all the time and she has the support of her team," he said. "She's just glad Owen is taken care of."

Although he is unable to be with her in Turin, Duke said he proudly watches all of her games.

"She's awesome. She plays with us on the men's team and is a lot better than me," Duke said.

Paul said he can hardly wait for his niece to return. "I'm going to give her a big hug, win, lose or draw. We're so proud of her," he said.