From Inside Sports
A gravity defying stunt from Canadian sprinting legend Donovan Bailey and a heartfelt tribute to late Americas sporting chief Mario Vasquez-Rana formed the highlights of tonight’s Opening Ceremony of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
After a build-up clouded by some criticism of the Games from the local population, it will have come as a huge relief that tonight was immediately widely praised on social media as a strong advertisement for the host city and nation.
Tickets for the event were in hot demand, and 45,000 spectators were present here in the arena usually known as the Rogers Centre and home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.
With the roof, the first retractable one on any stadium in the world, closed from the outset, there was a slightly more intimate and homely vibe to proceedings, different to the large athletic stadium feel of many other Ceremonies of recent times.
This spirit of uniqueness and innovation was present from the outset as, in what was billed as the first time ever, the Torch was introduced to open the event, before burning throughout the show.
A video was played on screen featuring members of Canada’s gold medal winning 4×100 metres relay team at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, consisting of Carlton Chambers, Robert Esmie, Glenroy Gilbert and Bruny Surin, who was cleverly shown running up Toronto’s most famous landmark, the nearby CN Tower.
He then passed to former world record holder Donovan Bailey who base-jumped off the 553 metres-high structure.
In a stunt which conjured memories of The Queen and James Bond actor Daniel Craig at the opening of London 2012, Bailey descended from the ceiling of the live Ceremony itself, before a final exchange with 15-year-old diver Faith Zacharias.
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