Cop Carries Pan Am Torch

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 8:24 a.m. March 17, 2015
Updated: 4 p.m. March 18, 2015

After her shift ends responding to radio calls at 11 Division, Constable Zsofia Balazs’ day is not over.

A woman in a Pan Am Games uniform standing in front of the official torch for the games.
Constable Zsofia Balazs has been chosen as a torchbearer for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto

The newly recruited constable makes her way to the pool where she begins her training in her attempt to qualify for the 2015 Pan Am Games held in Toronto this summer.

The 2012 Olympian is a hopeful for the 10-km open-water swim but will definitely represent her sport and the Service as a torchbearer for the Games that begin July 10.

She will be one of 3,000 Pan Am torchbearers who will cross over 130 communities over a span of 40 days to symbolize the spirit of the games. She was chosen along with 10 other torchbearers present at the torch and Pan Am Games uniform unveiling ceremony, held at the Ontario Science Centre March 16.

Mayor John Tory, Premier Kathleen Wynn, former Premier David Peterson, Olympian Simon Whitfield and other community members were there to introduce the 11 torchbearers.

“Getting a chance to wear the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games uniform and to hold the torch in my hands makes me feel even more excited about the torch relay,” said the 24-year-old officer and competitive swimmer, whose family moved from Hungary to Canada in 2003.

Cop Carries Pan Am Torch

For me, the opportunity to carry the torch on behalf of my country is a reminder of everything Canada has given me

“When we moved here, I did not speak a word of English but, when I joined swim club, I picked up the language within a few months.”

From her days at the swim club, to making her dream of becoming a police officer come true, Balazs says she owes it to her country to carry the torch high and give back to Canada.

“For me, the opportunity to carry the torch on behalf of my country is a reminder of everything Canada has given me. I feel like this is a chance to give back,” she says. “To be able to carry that flame and that spirit is just an honour.”

As for her demanding schedule of full-time police work and competitive swimming, the 24-year-old has no regrets.

“It’s not easy making the two schedules work. Sometimes I go straight to the pool after a midnight shift… but I think I owe it to myself and my coaches to give it my best shot.”

The officer adds that, if she qualifies for the Games, she will proudly represent the Service.

“I get to work a job I love every day and, with this (swimming), I may be able to give thanks… and hope to put the Service in the best light possible.”

The other ten torch bearers announced, alongside Balazs, are triathelete Simon Whitfeld, Francis Atta, Melanie Byland, Bob Cassels, Michael Crawford, Denzel Innis, Pat Israel, Tanisha Martinez, Scott Russell and Cameron Sault.

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