John Furlong, chief executive officer of the organizing committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, appeared before a standing room-only crowd in Niagara University’s Alumni Chapel on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. The award presentation was the highlight of an annual convocation hosted by Niagara’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management and sponsored by the Maid of the Mist Corporation.
The convocation is the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s showcase event, at which it annually honors national and international leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry.
During his acceptance remarks, Furlong stressed the importance of giving Canadian citizens a sense of ownership in presenting the Games, which ultimately facilitated the staging of one of the landmark sporting events in the country’s history.
“The success of the event was the result of an entire country holding hands,” he commented.
Furlong, as C.E.O. of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), led the teams that organized and staged the massive preparations for both the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. He successfully guided one of the most successful Winter Olympic Games ever from the outset, one that far exceeded projected sponsorship expectations.
A native of Tipperary, Ireland who moved to Canada over 35 years ago, Furlong has been involved with amateur athletics all his life, competing and coaching at the international level in three sports. A longtime member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, he served the B.C. Summer and Winter Games, Canada Games and Western Canada Games. This past May, Furlong was elected chairman of Own the Podium, an organization charged with leading the development of Canadian sports to achieve sustainable podium performances at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The award presentation preceded a 30-minute panel discussion focusing on the capacity of amateur sport as a driver of social change and as a potential contributor to the economic regeneration of Western New York. The panel included Furlong, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, USA Niagara Development Corporation President Christopher Schoepflin and Niagara Associate Professor of Sport Management Michael Gentile. Dr. Eddie Friel, Expert-in-Residence at Niagara University, moderated.
The afternoon was capped off with an Olympic-themed reception on the fourth floor of St. Vincent’s Hall, featuring fare prepared entirely by students in Niagara’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management program.