OTTAWA - Legendary Canadian Olympian Barbara Ann Scott carried the Olympic torch through the halls of Parliament today to a hero's welcome in the House of Commons.
Scott, who won a gold medal in figure skating in 1948, beamed as she held the flame aloft entering the Commons chamber to wild applause, chants and cheers from MPs.
The 81 year old is still the only Canadian woman to win Olympic gold in figure skating.
The torch's journey through Montreal was interrupted to bring it to Ottawa for the ceremony before Parliament adjourns Friday for the Christmas break.
The torch run officially arrives in the national capital region Saturday.
Scott said carrying the flame is the "greatest honour" an athlete can receive.
"I'm thrilled to be back in Ottawa and in Canada," she said after the ceremony. "Thank you, thank you."
Meanwhile, Canada's amateur athletic community is hoping to light a $22-million fire under parliamentarians.
Along with the torch, representatives of the Canadian Olympic Committee and other groups brought a pitch for a permanent increase in federal sport funding for the Own the Podium program after the 2010 Winter Games.
Canadian taxpayers will contribute more than $1 billion to the Games in Vancouver and Whistler, not including the $50-million annual federal stipend to the five-year-old Own the Podium program.
The program, run by former Olympic gold medallist Alex Baumann, is designed to help push Canada's elite winter and summer athletes to the very top of world rankings.
But with corporate sponsorships and provincial government contributions scheduled to dry up in March after the Winter games in Vancouver and Whistler, representatives of various athletic organizations and national sport federations want Ottawa to fill the void.