‘BoniBlog – Great memories from Vancouver

Today marks my final day at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games and I leave here having thoroughly enjoyed this journey.
This last ‘BoniBlog from these Olympics is the toughest to write, knowing I want to say it all and say it well while telling it in a way that does it justice.
First: The Olympics themselves … there were some bumps along the way, but I admired the resiliency, resolve and commitment by everyone associated with VANOC and the IOC to make sure the missteps were corrected. They honestly wanted to make these Games a great experience for athletes and fans, by no means an easy objective but one where they did whatever humanly possible to get there.
Don’t forget, Vancouver is the biggest city to host a Winter Games so it’s totally unfair for me to compare it against my all-time favourite Lillehammer. But I do leave here with a great deal of Canadian pride.
Our journalists around the world have told you the stories about the medals won and the athletes who achieved Olympics honours so I won’t dwell on those matters. In some of my blogs, I pointed out some athletes and moments that touched me in a way that I hope they also affected you. They’re the stories, they’re the ones who evoke the emotions, they’re the ones who sacrificed most and they’re all special for having reached the Olympics.
Now comes the part I don’t want to mess up: From the bottom of my heart I want to thank AIPS, its President Gianni Merlo and Secretary General Roslyn Morris, along with Sports Media Canada, its President Steve McAllister and Executive Vice President Don Goodwin, for entrusting me with this assignment.
When Don and Steve approached me about the possibility of this well over a year ago, it sounded exactly like something I dearly wanted to do – to the extent I decided right there and then that I would turn down any opportunity to work the Vancouver Games on television for a ninth consecutive Olympics.
I was determined to ensure that my work with the AIPS office at Main Press Centre would represent Sports Media Canada with the highest journalistic principles. I first met Gianni and Roslyn here on the night of February 9 and felt an instant bond to them as individuals and to the integrity of the International Sports Press Association that they represented.
I never thought I’d ever again run across a journalist who had as many characteristics and pride in journalism as George Gross, my long-time boss and Co-Founder of Sports Media Canada. Gianni is in many ways the Italian version of The Baron. Merlo is extremely well respected amongst his peers and by athletes and sports executives at the highest levels.
I listened and watched as he supervised the coverage for La Gazzetta dello Sport in the authoritative style one would expect from a guy who’s covered 19 Olympics and been at 20. Somehow, he’d then find time in the day for AIPS. I saw how people reacted to him whenever he entered a room and how his exceptional sense of humour and knowledge captivated those around him.
Gianni has presence and a dogged persistence in ensuring when things have to get done and organized until they’re completed. He believes in journalism and is concerned about a future that is clouded at best. He cares about AIPS and is convinced sports bodies around the world have learned to respect the importance of journalists around the globe.
Throughout the challenges, his leadership and ideals are enhanced and supplemented by Roslyn’s perseverance, expertise and charm. Watching Roslyn in action is a study and appreciation of someone who can so effectively be the round-the-clock beacon for AIPS, ensuring Gianni’s up to speed on pertinent matters, putting out fires when they surface, constantly updating the www.aipsmedia.com web site, laying plans for the next AIPS Magazine, taking out the pen and notepad when required to show that her journalism skills are still part of her repertoire, keenly listen and attempt to solve any issues raised by journalists – and still find time to devote part of every day to touch base with her family in Australia, husband, David, daughters, Megan and Georgia.
Roslyn always made certain to tell me how much she appreciated me being here and for all the work I was doing. I guess I can now tell her that it didn’t feel like work at all; returning to my journalistic roots was a total blast because the time with Roslyn and Gianni literally flew by. Honestly, it was so much fun … even the headaches were smoothed out in record time.
For me and for my wife in the week that she was here, we can’t say enough about the way we were welcomed and taken into the AIPS family by Gianni and Roslyn.
So to Gianni and Roslyn, it’s been a privilege and honour … thanks for these lifelong memories and friendships forever.

John Iaboni, Roslyn Morris and AIPS president Gianni Merlo

NOTE: Sports Media Canada’s John Iaboni now heads for baseball spring training camps in Florida. His ‘BoniBlog on this website will soon be seen with Palm Trees rather than snow in the background. Ros Morris will provide final comments from Vancouver before the AIPS office there closes.