Former Olympic sprinter makes a second attempt to enter Laval city politics
If there is an ironic lesson to be learned from municipal politics in the City of Laval in recent years, it is perhaps that finishing first in track and field and making it to the Olympics doesn’t guarantee by any means you’ll be elected to Laval city council.
No less than two former Canadian track and field short-distance “sprint” champions who competed at the Olympics have tried, with much less success, to prevail at what you might think would be the easier task of winning a seat on Laval council.
In November 2019, Canadian sprinter Bruny Surin tried to win a seat for Mayor Marc Demers’ Mouvement lavallois during a by-election in the district of Marc-Aurèle Fortin. In the end, he finished in second place after being jilted by voters who chose Parti Laval leader Michel Trottier instead.
Running in Saint-Martin
Two years before that, in the 2017 general election, another one-time Olympic sprinter, Nicolas Macrozonaris, ran for the opposition Action Laval party in the district of Sainte-Dorothée. For all his efforts, he finished third, well behind the incumbent winner, the Mouvement lavallois’s Virginie Dufour, who sits on the executive-committee today.
‘I knew immediately on the night of the election that in four years I was going to try again,’ says Macrozonaris
For the 2021 election in early November, Macrozonaris is back as an Action Laval candidate, although this time in the district of Saint-Martin. There, he’ll be competing against incumbent Mouvement lavallois councillor Aline Dib as well as others who are almost certain to enter the race.
Since officially retiring as a track and field athlete more than a decade ago, Macrozonaris has enjoyed a fair degree of success while operating a training academy and track club for aspiring Olympic sprinters and running athletes.
Developed winning athletes
“Right now, we have three national champions, which is extremely rare in this domain,” he said in an interview with the Laval News. “And it’s been an amazing thing for me to be able to develop these athletes. We’ve had incredible results with them and I am super proud of my athletes.”
Politically, Macrozonaris attributes his weak performance in the 2017 election to his being given too little time to prepare for that year’s voting day. “They asked me about 40 days before the election,” he said.
However, he suggested that he is much better prepared now and feels the same sense of determination to win that helped him at track and field events in the past. As well, he has eight months to get ready this time around.
“I truly did love the experience of running in 2017,” said Macrozonaris. “I enjoyed talking to and meeting people. I really felt like I was in my element. And although I was obviously disappointed that it didn’t work out my way, I knew immediately on the night of the election that in four years I was going to try again.”
Pledges sports complex
Heading up a list of current needs in Laval that Macrozonaris says he would work diligently to fulfill would be the construction of a comprehensive multi-purpose indoor sport centre, not unlike the Claude-Robillard Centre in Montreal, where athletes in a range of multidisciplinary sports often go to train.
The centre in Laval would complement the growing list of sport-oriented facilities that have been built or are on the verge of being built in Laval, including Place Bell and the future aquatic centre. “This is something that already exists in many cities, but we don’t have anything like this yet in Laval,” said Macrozonaris, noting that even the Borough of Saint-Laurent in Montreal has its own multi-purpose indoor sport facility.
Would help the economy
“So, I think Laval needs one of these where different sports could take place and we could continue to produce great athletes,” he continued, while adding that sports activities as diverse as basketball, gymnastics, martial arts, or simply walking and running, could take place under one roof year around without concerns about inclement weather.
While the City of Laval outfitted a special outdoor track and field facility at the Parc-école de l’Odyssée-des-Jeunes in Auteuil/Vimont for the Jeux du Québec, Macrozonaris said that having an indoor facility would attract a lot of national and international sporting events, which in turn would stimulate the local economy.
While saying that the fundamental needs of residents of Saint-Martin are also among his priorities, Macrozonaris added that he feels many people living in Laval would agree it’s time the city got its own indoor sports complex.