Koivu Runs with Olympic Torch in Relay Leading Up to London Games
/ Anaheim Ducks
A veteran of international hockey tournaments many times over, Saku Koivu recently had a chance to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the lead up to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The Ducks center ran with the Olympic torch through the borough of Hillingdon on Tuesday, in day 67 of the relay through the United Kingdom. Koivu’s time with the flame, approximately a quarter mile in length, left a lasting impression on him.
“What an unbelievable experience,” Koivu said. “There were thousands and thousands of people on the side of the road just to see and try and touch the torch.”
Among the international competitions Koivu has participated in with his native Finland have been four Winter Olympics (1994, 1998, 2006, 2010). He earned medals in all of those tournaments (silver in ’06, bronze in the other three) and has served as the captain for his country since 1998.
Beginning in 2006, Koivu was voted into an eight-year commission term on the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission. Created in 1981, the Commission serves as a link between athletes and the IOC board. On Tuesday, Koivu and several of his fellow Commission members were granted a short run with the Olympic flame. The torch is closing in on Olympic Stadium, where opening ceremonies for the Summer Games will be held on Friday.
“As I was jogging with it, I was thinking about the first time I saw the Olympic flame live in 1994 at the Lillehammer Games,” said the 37-year-old. “It brought back all the memories of the four times I was lucky enough to play in the Olympic Games. But today was different, because when we play hockey at the Olympics, you are really focused on the game and the schedule is very compact. So, I hadn’t had a chance to really take everything in.”
More than two months ago, Koivu agreed to return for his fourth season with the Ducks in the upcoming 2012-13 season by signing a one-year extension with the club. During his tenure with the team thus far, he has accumulated 45 goals, 90 assists and 135 points in 220 contests. Prior to joining Anaheim, he played 13 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. He can now add the Olympic torch experience to his decorated resume.
“It was more of a chance to feel the excitement the people have about the overall Olympic experience,” Koivu said. “It was such an honor to carry the torch, I will never forget it.”