By Bill Toomey, vice president of the World Olympians Association
At Olympians Summit, Lausanne, Switzerland
8 December 1999
is with great pleasure that I start another four years in
the service of the World Olympians Association , and I would
like to thank Mr. Peter Montgomery for his friendship and
leadership. I look forward to working with Mr. Pál
Schmitt, and should also like to thank Mr. Gilbert Felli and
his staff for their cooperation.
heart and soul of a country are measured by the courageous
acts of its citizens. So, when history defines an era, when
it measures the pulse of a decade, it gauges the behaviour
of those individuals whose influence made a difference in
the history of the modern Olympic Games.
vividly remember, as a 25-year-old schoolteacher in 1964,
traveling to Japan to watch the Tokyo Summer Games. I was
just a spectator then, not a competitor. I missed a spot on
America's finest team by one person. Yet, somehow I knew in
my heart that it was meant for me to bear witness to the grand
spectacle of the Olympiad. When all the teams of every country
marched proudly into the Olympic stadium and the torch finally
arrived, it was a bittersweet feeling that swept over me.
I was both sad and elated, I wanted so much to experience
the glory I saw before me. At that very moment, I made a promise
to myself to hopefully be on the next Olympic team.
every athlete's life there is that moment when the dedication
to his or her sport becomes clear. In that moment is kindled
the vision that all athletes must dream if they are to ever
begin the great journey we know as the Olympic experience.
athletes in this room all share a mystical relationship that
takes us back to antiquity. When I finally received my award,
after the burden of years of toil, the angst and injuries,
there was a burden that was lifted off my shoulders. That
single vision that swept over me in the audience, in the stadium
in Tokyo in 1964, became reality - a dream became true.
fellow Olympians - to reach your dreams, you literally swam
an ocean, ran the world, jumped over the moon and lifted a
mountain of iron, on behalf of your family, your friends and
your country. We are blessed with your company, we are inspired
by your acts.
you remember when you were first aware of the Olympic Games?
Do you remember who passed you the Olympic Dream baton? Surely,
after a decade of dedication and a lifestyle of discipline,
you will recall that person, event or catalyst that inspired
you to drive yourself. When did toil become pleasure? When
did disappointment incite fervor?
one contemplates the rhythmic pulse that signals an Olympic
heartbeat, one realizes that is more than the physical plane
- it is truly spiritual. We who are seated here can smile
at those memories of disappointment; now we can, then it was
a barrier - one of many - that had to be overcome.
mountain that we all had climbed had an overwhelming altitude.
Yet we saw footprints before us and we knew the journey was
possible. And then, when nearing the top, when we were near
exhilaration, it still seemed out of reach. It is precisely
at this moment that a champion is born. Now, we are not a
mimic, we are alone and somehow because of honour and commitment,
we sense the top.
we have all sensed the immense proportion of our Olympic odyssey
and the harder each step became, the more valuable the prize.
have all been touched by spirituality, we have been profoundly
changed and all because we received the baton.
is my purpose to continue the relay. Not only will the DNA
of my soul transcribe the message, but my waking moments will
hopefully articulate the map to each and every athlete who
cares enough to brave the adventure and be part of Olympism,
and discover the wealth found in the "unexplored territory
of our being."