Nelson Atom Spitfires centre Aedan Osika will represent his minor hockey team at the London Olympics.
The 11-year-old was one of four players across Canada selected as a goodwill ambassador to attend the Games courtesy of McDonald’s Canada, a sponsor of his hockey team.
In addition to an all-expenses paid trip to London for him and his mother, Osika received pairs of tickets to watch bronze medal volleyball and a medal round of athletics competitions, which includes several track and field events.
“I’m looking forward to watching the sports in person,” Osika said. “I learned the rules of volleyball and I’ve been watching it on TV.”
Osika is also invited to attend an athletes’ lunch and medal ceremony, where he’ll have a chance to meet some Olympians. He’s planning to bring a Canadian flag to collect autographs on.
“I’d be happy to meet any Canadian athlete, but I’d most like to meet [two time triathlon medalist] Simon Whitfield, who carried the flag for Canada for the opening ceremony,” Osika said.
Finally, Osika and his fellow ambassadors will go on a tour of London. He’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the city from the London Eye, a 135-metre tall Ferris wheel, then go on a sightseeing Duck Tour in an amphibious vehicle that can drive on roads and float in the river, and eat at the Rainforest Cafe.
The free trip will span the final four days of the Olympics. After that, Osika has planned a few extra days to explore with his mom. They’ll visit the Warner Brothers Studio where Harry Potter was filmed, the Westminster Abby and the Tower of London.
“It’s really exciting. My Dad was born in England but I’ve never been there,” Osika said, noting he’s also never been to an Olympic Games before.
Since he found out he’d been selected as an ambassador, Osika has been studying the history of the Olympics and researching Team Canada as a homeschool project.
His mother Kim said usually Aedan gets a break from his studies in the summer, but the two agreed he’d appreciate the Games more if he spent some time learning about them before he left.
“This is a great learning opportunity,” Kim said. “I’m so proud of Aedan for being selected. It’s amazing this could happen for him. We’re really honoured and grateful.”
Osika’s hockey team nominated him to represent them and an essay outlining his achievements was sent to McDonald’s, which judged applicants based on their leadership, balanced lifestyle, being a team player and extra-curricular activities.
It’s easy to see why Osika would stand apart from the crowd.
At the age of nine, he led a fundraiser selling folded paper cranes that helped raise $40,000 for people affected by the Japanese tsunami. As a six-year-old he became known as the Recycling King when he started collecting bottles to raise money for the Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation and has since donated over $1,500.
He plays sports year round — hockey in the winter, soccer and baseball in the summer — and hopes to one day play Olympic hockey.
Spitfires head coach Dan Bayoff has worked with Osika on the ice for two years and said he’s a great team player.
“He always treats his teammates with upmost respect and kindness,” Bayoff said. “He’s a real gentle-hearted kid. He works hard and is a great hockey player.”