B.C. Summer Games: Let the Games begin

B.C. Summer Games competition starts Friday in Nanaimo.

Twenty-five athletes and coaches from Greater Trail will compete for the Zone 1 Kootenay team at the B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo this weekend.

The local athletes will be part of the Zone 1 squad consisting of almost 200 participants from the East and West Kootenay and Boundary Region joining over 3,000 competitors at the Games’ opening ceremonies Thursday evening.

Trail Track and Field coach Dan Horan will be attending his sixth Summer Games as the Kootenay coach, one of the only Level 2 certified Track and Field coaches in the Kootenays. Horan will lead a large team of 25 athletes, with Trail Track athlete, September Stefani from Rossland, competing.

“This is one of the bigger groups,” said Horan. “I have 25 kids this year which is more than I’ve had in a number of years.”

While events like the Summer Games are old hat to the longtime Trail Track coach, Horan says it’s all about the kids and watching them enjoy the Games’ unique atmosphere.

“It is done like a world-class setting – more like an Olympic or World championship . . . it’ll be kind of neat for these kids to see what its like. It’ll be something that they haven’t experienced before. ”

Stefani will compete in the pentathlon as the only Greater Trail representative. The ages differ slightly at the Games depending on the sport and for athletics it is 14 to 15 year olds.

“I have basically a junior development club and then I have some Masters,” says Horan. “There’s really very few kids in that 14-15 year age (in Trail). What I attribute it to is there is lots of kids in the elementary school age and we have quite a good size club now but most are 10, 11, and 12 years old.”

Fruitvale’s Heather Johnson is heading to her third B.C. Summer Games as head coach of the Triathlon team, in what she says maybe the most challenging one yet; because, what has to be one of the most demanding sports at the Games, just got harder.

The triathletes now compete in five different events with the Aquathlon ( a 300 metre swim and one kilometre run) and duathlon (1K run, 5K-bike, 1K run) going Friday, followed by the main triathlon, (300-m swim, 10K bike, 3K run) and relay event with a four-person team all doing a mini-triathlon, before closing out with Sunday’s F1 event, a short sprint triathlon.

“This year is the first year they’ve added the relay and F1 triathlon, so even in the first year the kids were busy and by the end of it they were really tired, so now adding these ones it’s going to be a really, really full weekend,” said Johnson.

The athletes qualified for the Games after finishing in the top spots at the Wasa Lake Triathlon. Konkin also won the Men’s Christina Lake Triathlon last month and would like nothing more than to receive a medal from Olympic gold medalist Simon Whitfield.

With only 40 triathletes in total competing, the best aspect of the small teams is the camaraderie developed among the triathletes throughout the Games, says Johnson.

“The biggest goal is always to have fun . . . and because the triathlon teams are so small, we just end up being one big B.C. Team,” added Johnson. “They definitely compete, there’s fierce competition and some fast kids, but, then, as soon as its over, they are friends again, which is really great to see.”

As for the athletes, Hanna Schulze of Rossland will play for the Zone 1 Girls Soccer team and is looking forward to the prospect of being part of such a large-scale event.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Schulze. “Playing as hard as we did in the last couple of games we played and getting to know my team a little bit better.”

The girls range in ages from 10-12 and consists of largely players from Nelson and Cranbrook, who have been practiciing for the past month in anticipation of the five-match, winner-take-all tournament.

“I think we’ve had enough time, we could have more time, but I think we are ready,” added the 12-year-old midfielder.  “It’s exciting, I’ve never been to anything like this, because it’s my first year of playing competitive soccer. I’ve been to big ski races but this is the first time I’ve ever been to a big summer event.”

Schulze will also be accompanied by the girls Zone 1 soccer coach Clemente Miranda-Trevino of Trail.

Other competitiors and coaches from Greater Trail include golfer Ethan Paton from Salmo and coach Kevin Nesbitt, Lina Horan for Athletics,  Fruitvale’s Jacob Mozak and Rossland Kelton Byres in Box Lacrosse, and Nathaniel Reimer of Trail in boys soccer. The softball girls team includes Trail’s Jenica Bouliane, Jordan Zilkie, and Emma Ingram, along with Jessica Paul, Haley Gould, assistant coach Stephanie Gould, and head coach Mary Ann Gould from Salmo. Swimmers attending the meet are Aby Elwood,  Kira Konkin, and Ian Markus, with coaches Bill Park and Evelyn Fournier from Trail and Kayla Fraser of Montrose.

The B.C. Games opening ceremonies go Thursday night with competition commencing Friday.

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