As the West Kootenay launches into the B.C. Seniors Games with an opening ceremony tonight, some Greater Trail residents will have a sense of deja-vu.
The spirit of the annual Seniors Games was last celebrated in Trail in September of 1989, the second year of the event’s existence, when 950 athletes over 55 years old displayed their athletic talent with the support from about 400 volunteers.
This time the numbers have tripled with 3,200 participants from across the province competing in a variety of sports – including archery, five-pin bowling, pickleball and table tennis – with approximately 1,500 volunteers backing their passion for sport.
“Trail may not have been the first but we were the second and I think ever since then they’ve had to go a long way to match what we put on as a community,” said Trail resident Doug Stanley, who was chairman of the ‘89 Games.
“I knew that community spirit was second to none, as far as Trail was concerned.
“But I would say that was probably – as far as sporting events – the very first and I remember back then, we were pretty proud of that.”
Unlike the 2011 tagline “Three Cities (Trail, Castlegar and Nelson) One Goal,” suggests, the ‘89 Games were hosted by Trail but supported by surrounding communities. Athletes were shuttled to Christina Lake for lawn bowling and without a competitive indoor pool in Greater Trail, seniors traveled to Nelson.
“Probably the highlight for me was the lasting friendships that were made amongst the participants and people in the community,” said Stanley, “and they certainly loved our community but unfortunately we keep it as a well-known secret.”
It was no secret to the late and former B.C. Lt. Gov. David Lam, who joined then Trail Mayor Marc Marcolin at the ‘89 opening ceremonies.
“Of course I’m biased, perhaps, but they were pretty pleased that we got it in because it was one of the first big games that we were able to get,” said Marcolin.
After serving with his wife Grace as ambassadors for the 2006 B.C. Winter Games held in Greater Trail, Marcolin looks forward to leisurely taking in the four-day competition.
Stanley will also be a fan in the crowd cheering on his friends he’s hosting from out of town or keeping a close eye on the pickleball competition, a sport he introduced to Trail.
He expects the event will be up a notch from its inaugural appearance in Trail but also suggests the athletes will be more impressive, too.
“Seniors today, I think and I’m not an expert on this, they’re not only living longer but they’re in better health perhaps than they were back then.”