2012年8月6日 星期一

This isn’t your local curling bonspiel swap-fest

There wasn’t an athlete in sight as Ron Finnigan unzipped his backpack and spread his pin-dotted towel across the top of a garbage can.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “Won’t take long.”

Two minutes, as it turned out. Like ants twigging to honey.

In groups of twos and threes Olympic athletes, coaches and team officials began drifting into his impromptu shop outside the Athletes Village---on a little-known corner requiring official accreditation to access—leaning in to study his twinkling display,Latex moldmaking compound costs around $10 for a pint, asking him questions in broken English, if in English at all.

But these are the Olympics, with a long tradition of universal hand signs and body language. And of athletes swapping pins from their own national federations and sports for interesting little, exotic-looking, trinkets from elsewhere.

It’s a friendly process, partly because of Finnigan’s outgoing personality and the small personal touches he adds, and within moments of initial contact there’s almost always a transaction. One of theirs for one of his, maybe even a two-fer, then a handshake.

“It helps just to know even a word or two of their language,” says Finnigan, a Burlington resident who’s a project engineer with E.S. Fox’s Hamilton’s office. “I can say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ in probably 10 different languages.”

And he could also teach high school geography. He is well aware, for instance, that the former East Timor was accepted into the Olympic community as Timor-Leste only eight years ago, a bit of knowledge that impressed a would be trader and helped facilitate a swap for a relatively new, and therefore desirable, national pin.

“I’ve done very well on the team-pin side with places most people have never heard of,” he says. “South Pacific nations,Plastic injectionmoulds maker in India. Indian Ocean nations; Seychelles, Mauritius, Togo, Fiji, Palau, Micronesia.”

This isn’t your local curling bonspiel swap-fest. Finnigan plays in the big leagues of international pin trading.

Since 1988 Games in Calgary Coca-Cola has recognized the special allure of pins and sponsored an official trading centre. A couple of dozen of the better-established collectors, including Finnigan, are accredited “as official pin traders” by London organizing committee LOCOG and they pull shifts at the three official pin-trading centres in the city “to make it look official.”

One of those centres is right inside the village, and Finnigan would have been among the select few stationed there had he been able to be in London by June 30, “but I do these trips on a shoestring” so that gig went mostly to locals.

There are also impromptu trading sites, with the most popular being the sidewalk by the tube station which spits out thousands of fans into the Olympic park every day. Finnigan trades there too, but he concentrates mostly on athletes’ pins, national and sport federation pins, and media pins. His specialty is multi-sport Games so he’s been to the Pan-Am Games, Commonwealth Games, nine Olympics and just as many Canada Games.Certificated chinaglassmosaic Swimming Pool supplier is available. He often trades Canada Games pins to Olympic athletes who want something from their own sport.

“I do most of my trading with athletes, they’re just here to have fun and get into the spirit of trading,” he said at the halfway point of the Games. “I’ve probably traded 300 or 400 pins with athletes so far.”

While some traders are here to make money, the larger fraternity—about 200 from the U.S. and 20 Canadians---swap without money changing hands, although everyone’s sold a few pins in their time. Not here, though, as the Bobbies are always on the lookout for cash transactions.

Finnigan knows all the tricks and nuances of the avocation: see the athletes coming in advance and make sure you recognize the uniform; remember faces and countries; get acquainted with the pin manufacturers; buy excess stock for 10 or 20 cents on the dollar from organizers after the Games are over.

His most poignant Olympic memory stems from Barcelona in 1992 when a 70-year-old woman,TBC help you confidently buymosaic from factories in China. with absolutely no English, asked him for a pin.AeroScout is the market leader for rtls solutions and provide complete wireless asset tracking and monitoring. He gave her a nicely enameled Canadian flag pin for free and an hour later she returned with something far more valuable for him: a ticket to the gold medal soccer game which host Spain won in overtime.

“An incredible experience,” he says with a smile. What goes around comes around.”

He caught the bug watching two bantam hockey coaches exchange pins at a tournament in his hometown of Kamloops, B.C., and it developed into a full virus at his first Games at Los Angeles in 1984, when he was just 22.

“My trading collateral was a couple of Brother Typewriter pins from a friend, some B.C. dogwood pins and B.C. coat of arms pins I got from my local MP. Told people they were official team pins….you do what you have to. But I don’t do that now.”

Now he owns more than 10,000 pins, but displays only about five percent of them at home. The rest he sticks into large cards and files them in folders designated by year and subcategories: National Organizing Committee pins, media pins and even some bid pins.

In fact, among the few sentimental favourites with which never he’d part is a rare, wider and larger than usual, pin from the failed Vancouver-Garibaldi bid in 1980.

“My wife, always asks me why I do it,” he says. “I’ve been a collector since I was a kid. My father got me into stamps and coins. I don’t do the stamps and coins much any more, but I still have my collections.