Opportunity of a lifetime | TheUnion.com

Opportunity of a lifetime

Submitted by Sheila GierszewskiNevada City resident Gayle Lossman carries the Olympic torch's flame through Incline Village Sunday.
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A veteran of over 80 races and nine Senior Olympics, Gayle Lossman considers a quarter-mile jog the greatest run of her life.

She took the run through Incline Village at 3:15 p.m. Sunday, “in spectacular sunshine,” hoisting the Olympic torch in front of hundreds along the torch’s route as the flame made its way to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

For Lossman, a Nevada City fitness trainer, nothing she’s ever experienced comes close.

“It was the greatest experience in my entire life. Nothing will ever equal that,” she said Monday inside her Nevada City home, where one of the many Olympic torches given to runners now graces her living room, the stain from the smoke still visible on the glass at the top of the 31/2-pound silver and gray lantern.

Lossman, 58, a personal trainer at the South Yuba Club, was nominated by friend Frank Fulton in an essay to be one of the 11,500 runners bringing the flame to Salt Lake City, where the Olympics begin Feb. 8.

Lossman invited 52 of her friends and family members to witness her run Sunday.

“It’s just overwhelming. It’s so emotional … it made you so proud to be an American and so proud to live in this community. It makes me want to do more for my country.”

Lossman can now add “Olympic torch runner” to a resume that includes runs in Canada, Mexico and France. The Nevada City City Council proclaimed Sunday “Gayle Lossman Day” and presented her with a certificate for the occasion.

“It was a great honor for our city,” she said.

As for her Olympic moment, Lossman said it was almost too good to be true.

“You’re so energized, you feel like you’re in the most emotional dream of your life. I’m still almost a wreck,” said Lossman, who returned Monday afternoon to Nevada City with her husband Fred. “Total strangers wanted to have their picture taken with me.”

Fred Lossman, she said, “allowed me to pursue my own dreams,” pausing to hold the torch etched with the Salt Lake 2002 emblems and “Light the Fire Within” in script along the silver half.

“I have always loved watching the Olympics, but I never thought I’d get this opportunity,” said Lossman, who said she “carried the torch for America, for the victims of Sept. 11, my husband and my family.”

“It was like I’d died and gone to heaven,” she said. “I don’t know how I was blessed with this opportunity. Someone must be smiling on me.”

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