It’s almost game on in the mid Island, and gold, silver and bronze will be decided in Nanaimo.
The Harbour City is hosting the synchronized swimming competition as the B.C. Summer Games go today, July 19, through Sunday in the Cowichan Valley.
More than 2,000 youths are competing in 18 sports starting today, July 20. Hundreds of athletes and support officials from around the province travelled through Nanaimo Airport on their way to the games.
“Sport brings people together, helps us overcome barriers and differences, and plays a powerful role in the lives of young people…” said B.C. Premier John Horgan in a statement. “Congratulations to all participating athletes, and thanks to the coaches, families and volunteers who make the B.C. Summer Games great. I wish you all fair play, camaraderie and memories that will last a lifetime.”
The first games took place in Penticton in 1978, conceived by Premier Bill Bennett as a way to bring British Columbians together. Initially, the games included athletes of all ages, but the focus gradually turned toward younger athletes, with the goal of helping them to achieve their potential on their way to higher levels of their sports.
According to Kelly Mann, president and CEO of the B.C. Games Society, the move toward youth started in the late 1990s.
“Over 40 years, that’s probably the single largest change that has taken place,” Mann said.
The change was made gradually in order to help provincial sports organizations make the transition.
“We gave sports the opportunity to get to that place,” Mann explained.
The youth format was a big change for some sports, but they learned to embrace it.
Among the benefits of concentrating on young people, Mann said, is that the age limits make it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the vast majority of the participants, which is reflected in the athletes’ excitement and enthusiasm, and in their discipline and focus.
“These kids understand the importance of the Games,” Mann said.
For more on the B.C. Games, visit www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com.
GAME ON … The synchronized swimming will be held 8-5 p.m. Friday and 9-3 p.m. Saturday at the NAC. Admission is free.