St. Patrick's student to hoist Olympic torch

  • November 27, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s an Olympic dream come true for 15-year-old Toronto student Luis Santiago-Gonsalves.

Although he’s not competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Grade 10 student at Toronto’s St. Patrick’s High School is going to be part of the Olympic legacy. He was recently chosen to carry the Olympic torch during its cross-Canada stop in Toronto on Dec. 17.

Santiago-Gonsalves will join 12,000 torchbearers on a leg of the cross-Canada, 45,000-kilometre journey, in 1,037 communities in the months leading up to the Games in February.

Santiago-Gonsalves, a student in the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s Vision Program for those with visual impairment, is an avid swimmer who competes in the 100-metre freestyle and says his favourite subject is gym.

He earned a place in the Olympic torch relay with a winning submission in a Royal Bank of Canada-sponsored student competition.

At St. Patrick’s, Santiago-Gonsalves is all smiles. He says he was jumping with joy when he heard the news of his winning story submission about a fun-filled — and rare — camping trip he took last year.

Santiago-Gonsalves said he is gearing up for the relay,  keeping in shape through running and swimming. He also shares a unique workout strategy: Santiago-Gonsalves has taken up lifting four-litre bottles of milk over his head up to three times a week. That’s so he can carry the torch, which weighs just over a kilogram and is a metre tall, he adds with a laugh.

Recently, Santiago-Gonsalves received his “uniform” for the relay: a white track suit with a grey stripe and the Olympic rings on the back.

Santiago-Gonsalves is originally from Mexico City and came to Canada with his mother, Sandra, two years ago.

Sandra recalls how she was overjoyed and screamed when she got a phone call informing her that her son would be an Olympic torchbearer.

“It’s very important for him,” she said, adding he is a hard worker and an example for other students.

Principal Tracey Parish said this work ethic is evident in Santiago-Gonsalves at school.

She said Santiago-Gonsalves is a “conscientious” student who is modest about his accomplishments. Parish said some of his teachers didn’t even know about his winning entry for the torch relay contest until Parish informed them about it.

Now that the word is out, everyone at St. Patrick’s is proud of him, she added.

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