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Nanaimo puts on golden Games
The 2014 B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo drew to a close after four days of competition and celebration of sport. Some will take away medals; all involved will take away memories.
The Games officially ended Sunday afternoon with closing ceremonies at Rotary Bowl stadium. Mayor John Ruttan and B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon extinguished the flame and Games president Jeff Lott presented the official flag to athletes from Penticton, the next host city.
"The 2014 B.C. Summer Games may be over, but the spirit of the community, friendship and teamwork that inspired us all will never leave our hearts," said Ruttan.
He said the city's efforts in hosting the event made him proud and he thanked the 2,945 volunteers.
"They are Nanaimo's ambassadors," he said. "They welcomed thousands of visitors from all over the province and showed them true Nanaimo hospitality."
The Games were a big hit with all involved – athletes, families, fans, and everyone else who played a part. The participants, all of them high-calibre athletes, enjoyed a totally different experience than they get during a usual sports season.
"You ride the bus with [athletes from] different sports and everybody's hyped and ready to go and excited," said Madison Heisterman, a track-and-field gold medallist from Nanaimo. "It's great. It's so much fun."
Tavin Grant, a lacrosse gold medallist from Burnaby, said it was a crazy good atmosphere around the city.
"Everywhere you go, everyone you meet is just so happy to be here," said Grant. "It's such a great environment. Talking to everyone who's here, everyone is having so much fun."
The closing ceremonies were a final opportunity for all the youths to get together, say goodbye to new friends and teammates, take selfies, show off their medals and laugh and cry and hug.
Certainly they were congratulated for their efforts, in victory or defeat. Dot Neary, school board chairwoman, said one of the participants told her it felt good to win a medal, and when pressed, admitted it felt awesome.
"So athletes, to each and every one of you, I say thank you for allowing us to share your awesomeness this weekend," Neary said.
Keynote speaker David Calder, a former Olympic rower, told the athletes it's great to celebrate victories and it's OK to be disappointed in defeat.
"Move on to what's next. For all of you, learn lessons from your successes and failures because that's how you get better," he said. "Congratulations for getting to this point and good luck for what's next."