Olympic spirit lives on in favourite 'Canadian city'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 March, 2010, 12:00am

A weekend of sleep deprivation is nothing compared to the Olympian effort by Canadians this month.

Most of the 220,000 Canadians in Hong Kong spent many sleepless nights watching the gold rush at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

They had maple syrup coursing through their veins, says Andrew Work, executive director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

'Coming from winning no gold medals ever at the Olympics on our home turf to winning a record-breaking 14 meant that Canadians didn't get much sleep in those weeks. It seemed everyone was up at 3am for the victorious hockey game. Canadians were sleeping with alarm clocks under their pillows.

'We had a bit of a rocky start, but Vancouver delivered a great Olympics. Canadians got more and more excited as the medal count grew. Those morning starts were worth it for those with maple syrup in their veins. Especially at 4am for our finest hour - in three 20-minute periods ... and seven minutes, 40 seconds of heart-stopping overtime!'

Randy Heward, chief executive of T Max, a Hong Kong-based company that facilitates business in China as well as designing and marketing products, said the ice hockey victory was the icing on the cake.

'After our Olympic disappointments, Canada started planning our Olympic strategy,' he said. 'We went all out to 'own the podium' in Vancouver, with a dedicated campaign. The Olympics was something no Canadian will ever forget, especially the ice hockey final. What cricket is to India and soccer is to Brazil, ice hockey is to Canada. It's the holy grail.'

Canadians are doing their bit to own the stadium at the Sevens, too. And Canadian companies are kicking goals in business.

Last year, Manulife had a Sevens box for the first time, at the height of the financial crisis. Since 2004, property group Colliers International Hong Kong has also hosted a box.

Canadians are in diverse sectors of business in Hong Kong. There are three Canadian International Schools, and Cathay Pacific has 402 Canadian pilots on the payroll.

'Few people recognise the power of Canada in Hong Kong. Just as people often mistake Cirque Du Soleil as French, not Canadian, people don't always realise the huge Canadian presence in this city,' says Work.

'In fact, Canadians are the biggest group of overseas passport holders in Hong Kong, with over 220,000 people resident here. Hong Kong is my favourite Canadian city.'