Birch to carry torch

Olympic silver medallist Janice Birch

You can add Olympian Janice Birch to the list of local torchbearers for the 2010 Olympic torch relay.

But unlike the rest of her fellow Peninsula participants who will carry the torch when it arrives here in early February, Birch – a silver medallist in synchronized swimming at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta – will do so much sooner, on Jan. 3 in Ontario.

Earlier this year, Birch responded to a call from the torch relay committee asking if any former Olympians were interested in participating.

She originally signed up for the Nanaimo-Tofino leg of the journey, but in her application added that she’d be willing to travel to Sault Ste. Marie because she has family in nearby Blind River.

Joining Birch on her run will be her daughter, Kendall, in Grade 1 at Ray Sheperd Elementary.

“The run for me pays tribute to my family roots in Northern Ontario, and to all the students who are beginning their dreams,” Birch writes in an email to the Peace Arch News.

Birch is the fourth Peninsula resident to be identified as a torch-bearer, joining Nick Rutckyj, Cheryl Cruickshank and Alfred Bennett.

In November, the torch committee said it would not release names of the torch bearers until 48 hours before they were to carry it.

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