Olympian Hawley Bennett’s dream come true — 22 years later

Twenty-two years after she first tried to be an Olympic torch bearer, the dream is coming true for Hawley Bennett.

Back in 1988, Bennett, who was only 11 years old, entered a contest to carry the torch through Langley, as it made its way to Calgary for the Winter Olympic Games.

The contest asked each person why they wanted to carry the torch and what it would mean to them. This was done in a speech format.

Out of the 400 or 500 contestants, Bennett made the cut down to the final third, where she spoke at the former Langley Civic Centre (now the George Preston Recreation Centre) in front of 1,000 or so people.

Bennett finished a runner-up,

Fast forward to the past six years, and Bennett, an equestrian athlete has represented Canada at several international competitions, including the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

And now this Tuesday, Bennett will fulfill her dream of 1988 when she will finally carry the Olympic torch.

“I am pretty excited,” she said.

“I can’t believe it, it is something I have always wanted to do.

“To have that part of Olympic history in my hands is amazing.”

While Bennett would have loved to carry the torch in either Langley or Aldergrove, where she grew up and still comes home to visit, she will settle for carrying the torch in Richmond.

“I remember running down my driveway practising. I had a bottle of dish soap in my hand practising the weight of the torch,” she recalled with a laugh.

“Looking back on it, I think it was pretty cute.”

Bennett, splits her time between Langley and California, the latter being her home base as she trains for competition.

She is working towards representing Canada at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The chance to carry the Olympic torch will allow Bennett’s friends and family to share in the experience.

“Walking into the Olympic stadium is something that is priceless, but not everyone can see that,” she explained. “For my friends and family to be able to see me carry the torch, that to me almost means more.”

Bennett is scheduled to arrive in Langley on Sunday (Feb. 7). And after participating in the torch run on Tuesday, she is scheduled to speak to some Grade 2 and 3 students at a Surrey elementary school later in the week as a former Olympian.

And that is the perfect age for Bennett.

“That is kind of cool for me because that is when I knew I wanted to go to the Olympics,” she said. “I wrote that in my Grade 2 yearbook.”

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