Mon, September 23, 2013

Lucky Loonies give wings to Olympic dreams

By RENATO GANDIA, QMI Agency


Mark Tewksbury. (Jim Wells/QMI AGENCY)

CALGARY - Five million new “lucky loonies” are now circulating in support of Canadian athletes participating in the Summer Olympics.

The dollar coins, released by the Royal Canadian Mint, feature the iconic loon spreading its majestic wings on rippling lake waters.

“Canada is once again fielding a strong and skilled team for London and the Mint is proud to honour them with a special coin that is a reflection of their talent and commitment to being the best,” said Ian Bennett, president and CEO of the federal crown corporation.

“To wish them luck as they represent Canada, each member of the Canadian team will receive a lucky loonie upon their arrival in London,” he said.

The tradition of the lucky loonie was hatched at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, where a Canadian ice maker embedded one in the hockey rink to bring luck to the Canuck men’s and women’s teams.

Both teams went on to seize gold medals.

Olympic gold medallist Mark Tewksbury, Canada’s chef de mission to London, is thrilled with the new loonie unveiled.

“I think it’s really special,” said Tewksbury, who won gold at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

“When I learned I was getting one today I immediately asked ‘Can I have one for everybody on the team?’” he told reporters.

“Anything that makes the members of the Canadian team feel special, as chef de mission I’m going to make it happen.”

Tewksbury said luck always adds a little, but athletes do prepare to be successful.

“Canadian teams have worked very hard to turn all of that hard work into great performances,” he said.

Artist Emily Damstra designed the coin, which also features the Canadian Olympic team logo, in celebration and support of the athletes.

The new coin entered circulation Thursday and Canadians are encouraged to look for it in their change.

Manitoba MP Shelly Glover, who was at Thursday’s unveiling, encouraged Canadians to show support to the athletes by adding the new loonie to their collection of keepsake coins.

“Join us in showing our athletes in London how proud we are of them and that we wish them the best of luck.”

The London Games start on July 27.

renato.gandia@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: SUNRenatoGandia