As she gingerly lifted it, rower Gabe Bergens London Olympic silver medal almost weighed down nine-year-old Sophia Burbees slender arms.
It was a big medal representing even bigger dreams.
Burbee was among hundreds of well wishers who gathered at Centennial Square on Wednesday afternoon during the welcome home ceremony for Island athletes who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
Burbee recalled watching her TV and cheering as Bergen and his Elk Lake-based Canadian mens eight teammates crossed the line in London to capture that silver medal. And here it was in front of her to hold for real.
She participates in just about everything from field hockey and swimming to cross-country and triathlon. But the water-polo ball Burbee cradled almost overwhelmed her tiny palms as numerous sporting activities were to be had for the gathered school children during the event hosted by the City of Victoria, municipality of Saanich, Canadian Sports Centre Pacific and the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.
Swimmer Ryan Cochrane, who won Olympic silver in the 1,500-metre freestyle at London, signed autographs for young people and remembers himself being inspired when triathlete Simon Whitfield visited Royal Oak Middle School with his gold medal after the 2000 Sydney Summer Games.
You dont realize how many Olympians and Olympic medallists are from Victoria because of the support we receive here on so many levels, said Cochrane, who said its about paying it forward.
Its worthwhile even if we reach one child to take up a sport through an event like this. If we reach thousands, imagine what we could do as a sporting nation.
Victoria cyclist Gillian Carleton reveled in her new status as an Olympic medallist.
Its been a crazy last month and a half since London, for sure, she said.
There have been so many requests and you want to accept all of them but you also need time for yourself.
Yet there was nowhere else she would rather have been Wednesday.
The Olympics are great for promoting the ideals of discipline and hard work but I always tell kids not to forget that you have to love what youre doing.
Many of the Island Olympians also took part in the national homecoming for London Olympians and Paralympians last weekend in Toronto.
Toronto was awesome and Victoria is great, said London Games fencer Monica Peterson.
Its still a whirlwind but its starting to sink in. I love the kids. They are the best. One even said he wants to try fencing. Thats important to me.
London Paralympic sailor Stacie Louttit, a Beijing 2008 medallist, said she was grateful for the response.
In Victoria, there is a sporting culture of excellence and dedication and that is a great motivater.
For some of the Islands international sporting veterans, London may have been the end of the line.
Its time to take a break and reflect and maybe find my new focus, said Peterson, a UVic commerce grad.
But for some of the younger Olympians, this is just a respite.
The [2014 Glasgow] Commonwealth Games and [2015 Toronto] Pan Am Games are rounding into view and Rio 2016 will be here sooner than you think, said Carleton.
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