Centennial grad has claim to flame

Auto technician key to Olympic Torch Relay

It will go down in history as the longest Olympic Torch Relay contained within a host country, but traversing 45,000 kilometres in just over 100 days was no small feat. For Naresh Lalman, being part of the small army of people providing logistics was worth the long days and often frigid temperatures.

Linda White, Special to QMI Agency

As lead automotive technician, Naresh Lalman was responsible for keeping the fleet of 100 GM vehicles used to support the Olympic relay in tip-top shape. He even had an opportunity to run with the torch in Erin, Ont.

As lead automotive technician, the Centennial College graduate was responsible for keeping the fleet of 100 General Motors vehicles used to support the relay in tip-top mechanical shape.

“We began our work at 4:30 in the afternoon and often finished at midnight or later,” Lalman said.

He was impressed with the well-coordinated route, which included daily stops at GM dealerships.

“We washed and serviced the vehicles and ensured they were ready for the next day,” he said.

Typical tasks included replacing light bulbs and windshield wipers, and taking care of basics like tire pressure, washer fluid and oil changes. “One day, we put a generator in the media truck, which charges all the cellphones and cameras,” Lalman said.

The job was a welcome opportunity for the Trinidad and Tobago native to experience the country he’s called home since he was 12. He appreciates Canada’s varied landscapes and cultures, and is particularly impressed with Vancouver Island.

Lalman’s journey to the OIympics began in high school, when he was recommended for the CITI Motive Power Apprenticeship program, a two-year transition-to-work program that allowed him to begin his apprenticeship early.

He took Centennial automotive courses and received on-the-job training while completing his high school diploma. “The program allowed me to fast track into a career I knew I wanted to do,” Lalman said. “My father is in the field and I always loved cars. I’m basically following in his footsteps.”

While completing his studies in the automotive service technician apprenticeship program at Centennial, Lalman began working at Midtown Saab in Toronto and was eventually hired as a full-time licensed technician. “Instead of coming out of high school and beginning the program, I was ready two years ahead of the game. I got my licence when I was 22 years old,” Lalman said.

He made an impression during his six years at Midtown Saab, which has since closed its doors.

When his former manager resurfaced as the vehicle manager for the Olympic Torch Relay, Lalman was invited to apply for the lead technician position and was hired immediately.

He was on the road since late October, when he flew to Victoria, B.C. for opening ceremonies of the relay. “I’ve been on the road ever since,” he said. “We flew to Newfoundland to meet the torch and from there, we travelled back to the west coast.”

Lalman even had an opportunity to run with the torch in Erin, Ont. “To be part of all this and see people welcoming you with open arms has been amazing,” he said of the relay.

Though he’s been out of a job since the cauldron was lit on February 12, Lalman has no regrets and has now returned to Toronto to prepare for teacher’s college. “I would love to become a Centennial College or high school teacher and share my passion,” he said.


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