The 24th edition of the 2011 B.C. Seniors Games crossed the finish line on Saturday, in what was the most successful event for West Kootenay senior athletes in the history of the games.
About 400 participants comprised the West Kootenay contingent, the largest to ever attend the Games. With those big numbers, the team also put in its best performance ever, finishing second overall in the medal haul.
The West Kootenay collected 106 gold, 65 silver and 69 bronze following close behind Fraser Valley with 264 medals total. The Lower Mainland took third with 237.
On Saturday, participants gathered informally at the closing ceremonies at the Castlegar Sports Complex to celebrate and thank participants, hosts, organizers and the many volunteers that made the Games possible.
Organizers predicted the event needed close to 1,500 volunteers stretched between the three host cities of Trail, Castlegar and Nelson to make it successful and just prior to the Games, they voiced concern over volunteer numbers – but when it came down to the crunch, the volunteers showed up.
“It’s like Kootenay time here, everyone stepped up to the plate and we had way more volunteers than we needed,” said Keith Smyth, regional vice-president of the Games.
The athletes’ banquet in Castlegar Friday typified the whole week as over 100 volunteers managed to feed 2,700 hungry participants in a couple hours.
“In all three cities, we’re just overcome,” he said. “I’m hearing remarks from all over the province on the hospitality of our area, the helpfulness, and people are just being attracted to the area like crazy.”
To thank the host cities for the Games, organizers presented the three mayors, Mayor Dieter Bogs of Trail, Lawrence Chernoff, Castlegar, and Nelson Mayor John Dooley with commemorative Seniors Games banners to hang in their respective arenas.
While the team performed well, it will take time to analyze the success of the games on an economic level, said Smyth.
“The hardest part for us from a planning point of view was leading up, and to see that all those schedules were being approved by the Games people, so we ran into all the usual glitches that go through scheduling but once the events started they went very, very well . . . In terms of what we’re getting from people as far as comments go, it’s just absolutely over the top, it’s just been tremendous.”