Jeff Lee, Canwest News Service - October 01, 2008
VANCOUVER -- Johanne and Jean-Pierre Monette of Montreal have never seen their speed-skating sons Marc-Andre and Jean-Francois compete at any major competition.
They weren't there when Jean-Francois skated in the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics, or when their sons travelled to Europe for short-track speedskating championships.
Instead, they put all their money into making sure the two boys could compete, knowing that they could always watch them on television or see a video later.
"When we are not there with them, it is always heartbreaking, but they do call home," Johanne Monette said.All of that will change for the Monettes and the immediate families of all Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes who compete at the 2010 Games.
On Wednesday, Petro-Canada, an Olympic sponsor, announced it will underwrite the entire cost of accommodating and hosting two family members of every Canadian athlete for both Games, including supplying tickets to events to watch the competitions.
The Monette brothers said the program will take a lot of pressure off their family if they qualify in next August's Canadian championships.
"This is a way to thank our parents for their support," said Jean-Francois. "It is something we don't have to worry about, and having our parents here at the Olympics will be a huge boost for us."