Bearing the torch is the ride of Lauren’s life

Lauren Barwick receives her gold medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games in China.

About the only concern Lauren Barwick has about bringing the Olympic torch to the Langley Events Centre for its official welcome is lighting her hair on fire.

“I am a little worried about attaching fire to my wheelchair,” she laughed. “I’ll have to make sure I have my hair tied back.”

All kidding aside, Barwick — who won gold and silver at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing — is thrilled with the honour.

The Aldergrove resident and Paralympian was chosen by Langley’s torch relay committee to represent the community and carry the Olympic flame to the Langley Events Centre for its official welcome on Feb. 8.

“It’s been really hard to work my way up in the past eight years, just to get people to know me and what I do,” Barwick said. “I was completely shocked and surprised to be selected to carry the torch.

“It is very exciting, and I’d like to think I was nominated not just because of my gold medal, but because of who I am (and) what I represent. It is such an honour.”

Barwick began riding and competing at a young age, but a workplace accident in 2000 changed her life forever.

Paralyzed from the hips down, and after extensive rehabilitation, Barwick returned to competition in 2002. She has competed on the international stage and is a veteran of both the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games and is working towards qualifying for the 2012 Games in London.

Her selection as the community’s official torch bearer was a fairly easy one to make.

Barwick’s deep roots within the community were just one of the reasons cited.

“She epitomizes what Langley is all about,” said Township Coun. Jordan Bateman, who chairs the Langley torch relay committee. “Through her hard work and determination, she has overcome tremendous hardship to follow her dream and become a world champion.

“She was the natural choice for this honour.”

Being the one to carry the flame in Langley has a lot of meaning.

“It is huge for me in the sense that Langley is the horse capital of B.C. and so much of what I have accomplished is because the people of Langley have supported me,” she explained. “To represent them in that sense is huge.”

Barwick, who is currently in Florida studying at the Parelli Natural Horsemanship International Study Centre, while also still competing, is flying home just for the torch relay.

“The fact that I get to be involved in this is huge,” she said.

She is also looking forward to having her family and friends out in full support to cheer her on.

“A lot of people that were part of my journey never got to be at my event,” she said. “So for them to get to experience (this) excitement with me is great.”

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