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Olympics, Paralympics better than hoped for, says VANOC CEO

Better than we ever thought — and maybe even a surplus — were themessages VANOC had for Canadians at the closing of the 2010 ParalympicWinter Games last night.

Better than we ever thought — and maybe even a surplus — were the messages VANOC had for Canadians at the closing of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games last night.

“The era has been a good success,” VANOC CEO John Furlong told reporters.

“I don’t think any of us thought going into the Games, it would be quite the success it was, and the goal of trying to touch every Canadian life has been achieved.”

Canada owned the top spot on the podium during the Olympics, winning a record 14 gold medals, and finished third in the Paralympics with 10 gold medals — the country’s best showing.

Deputy CEO Dave Cobb echoed Furlong’s sentiments adding that ticket and merchandise sales also exceeded expectations at both the Olympics and Paralympics.

And while the Games are over, Furlong said he hopes the legacy will be that sport will be forever in Canada’s national interest. A balanced budget would help achieve that.

“I think we will have a surplus,” he said. “We’re very confident we will be (below the budget) and any surplus goes back into sports.”

He added that balancing the budget will require the extraordinary payment from the International Olympic Committee, which offered to help when the poor economy limited sponsorships.

Since winning the bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics seven years ago, Canada finally ended its time in the international spotlight last night.

“Canada’s Games are over — we did it!” Furlong said at the closing ceremonies.

“If we have had success, it was because all 33 million Canadians for an instant became loyal trusted teammates. We were ‘Team Canada — Equipe Canada’ — not the few but the many. We did this together — all of us living every moment and all the drama like we ourselves were the athletes.”