Former 1984 Olympic hopeful raps way into torch run

Relatives fly in for big day

Longtime park board employee Cindy Crapper is finally taking part in the Olympics--26 years after qualifying for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, Calif.

Crapper is running with the 2010 Olympic torch Friday morning, the final day of the relay and just hours before the opening ceremonies begin. It's an honour she received after submitting an audition tape of her rapping a self-penned song professing her dedication to sport and the City of Vancouver, under the moniker Cindy C. Rapper.

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The 47-year-old Crapper laughed as she recalled creating the rap song and taking it on the road. "I was at Templeton secondary and I put on my [torchbearer] uniform and waved at all the kids and then I did my rap for them," she said.

Crapper said it was heartbreaking to be left home by the Canadian Olympic team in 1984 after qualifying for javelin. She'd been fitted for a uniform when Canada's Olympic Association decided not to send the whole team and take only the top contenders. "It was devastating to watch my friends and teammates taking part in the opening ceremonies," said Crapper, who was living in Ontario at the time.

"But you move on. Now I'm giving back and I'm still heavily involved with sports. I coach three hockey teams and I'm involved with lots of park board programs."

Crapper has worked for the park board for 23 years and holds the position of recreation services coordinator in charge of access, through which she deals with seniors and people with disabilities.

"So I'm just as pumped for the Paralympics as I am for the Olympics," said Crapper.

Crapper uses the term "pumped" lightly. The excitement in her voice was obvious as she talked about her run with the torch. "I am so excited and feel so lucky and privileged to have been chosen," said Crapper.

Crapper's family is equally thrilled. Besides her partner, sharing Crapper's Olympic moment will be a brother who's travelled here from England and another who lives in Vancouver. She'll also be joined by her 16-year-old nephew and a seven-year-old great-nephew who's flying in from Prince Rupert this week.

"I talked to him on the phone [Sunday] and he is so excited," said Crapper.

Another torchbearer from the city carrying the flame Friday is Marc-Andre Choquette, who like Crapper is thrilled to take part.

"When I was first chosen, the flame was so far away I didn't really think about it," said Choquette, who works for the city's library. "But now that it's so close I'm getting nervous."

Choquette said his mother is of Chinese-Philippino descent and his father is French-Canadian. "But I grew up in Vancouver and it's become my cultural identity," he said. "I'm very proud to be representing my city."

Choquette was at work early in the morning one day last year, wearing his Canucks jersey and playoff beard, when a team arrived to interview potential torchbearers. They convinced him to apply and interview and eventually he got word he'd been chosen.

"It's a very humbling experience," said Choquette.

Also carrying the torch Friday is Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. On Thursday, Ken Lyotier, founder of United We Can, will carry the Olympic torch after being selected as the city's Community Torchbearer. Lyotier will carry the Olympic flame into Livecity Yaletown Thursday and light that site's cauldron.

Crapper's run begins at 9:07 a.m. in front of the steam clock in Gastown. Crapper's rap audition can be seen on Youtube under "CCR Torch Relay."

sthomas@vancourier.com

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