– The first day of competition at the 2012 Surrey BC Summer Games got underway Friday with many of the 2,300 athletes having to contend with less than ideal weather at the outdoor venues.
Through rain and high water, sisters Kelly and Annie Hellman of Nelson (Kootenays – Zone 1) came out on top in Friday's canoe/kayak events. Kelly, 13, placed second in the 2000 metre single canoe race with a time of 17:00 while 12-year-old Annie took third with a final time of 17:47. Nelson Canoe and Kayak Club is one of the smallest and newest in the province, and with only one racing kayak in the entire club, prepping for the Games was “an adventure”, said Annie.
Rowers Mira Girt and Miranda Prekaski handled the squalls, rain and cool weather Friday morning to win Gold in the Women's 2x Skills event for Zone 4 Fraser River-Delta, and then rowed their way to Silver in the Mixed 4x Plus Coxswain. In the afternoon, it was a Bronze for Girt and Prekaski in the Women's Doubles 1000 metre Time Trials, and another Bronze in the Mixed Quad Time Trials.
In the Men’s 2x, Gold went to Aaron Christie and Brendan Marney (Zone 6 Vancouver Island-Central Coast), Silver to Zone 4’s Alex Payandeh and Ty Yamamoto and Bronze to Zone 6’s Gavin Cameron and Justin Miller, also from Zone 6.
Over 50 eager sailors from teams across the province converged on White Rock's Blackie Spit Park to brave the large waves whipped up by 35 knot winds, equivalent to 64.8 km/h. Although many sailors capsized multiple times, the intense weather provided a great experience for the fledgling athletes, according to Darren Redies, Surrey Sailing Club’s commodore and overseer of the competition. "That's what you want for a competition of this caliber,” he said.
Kamloops’ Logan MacLeod, 14, swam her way to three medals on the first day of competition, winning Gold in both the 100 metre breaststroke and the 200 metre freestyle and Silver in the 50 metre Freestyle. Younger sister Taryn, 13, is also competing at the Games for the first time.
In Athletics competition at Bear Creek Park, Jake Hanna crushed the BC Games' 300 metre record – twice! Competing in his hometown of Surrey, he won his semi-final heat effortlessly in a time of 37.35, breaking the record by mere milliseconds after easing up before he crossed the finish line. The energy he saved helped him to the win in the final in a time of 36.09.
It was first time lucky for Special Olympics athlete Brad Hogan of who won Gold in the long jump event with a distance of 4.48 metres. Teammate Jake Hooper placed second with a jump of 4.05 meters, and 16-year-old Jason Keddy was third with 3.61 meters. All three men are from Zone 6 Vancouver Island-Central Coast.
In a tight matchup against Zone 7 North West, the boys’ soccer team from Zone 7 Kootenays emerged as the victors with a 3-1 win in their first match. The Kootenays team is made up of players from cities separated by long distances. "It was a challenge to get players together for practices and the players often billeted. Some even had to travel five hours,” said assistant coach Michael Stambulic.
In the battle for field lacrosse supremacy the Fraser Valley Tropics team powered its way through heavy rain and winds like a tropical storm. Despite a late bus arrival and missing the all-important first meal of the day, the team took to the field at Newton Athletic Park wearing their signature Hawaiian print shorts and took a commanding 14-0 win over Vancouver-Squamish (Zone 5).
Michela Phillips, 17, from North Vancouver (Zone 5 Vancouver-Squamish) won the junior women's wakeboard title, adding another medal to her family’s collection of Gold. Michela’s mother, Kathy Kreiner-Phillips, one of the Games’ celebrity medal presenters, draped the Gold medal around her daughter's neck. Kreiner-Phillips won Olympic Gold in the giant slalom in 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria.
At the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, friends Alysha Russell, 15, Robyn Marjoribanks both from Squamish, joined each other on the podium as the medals were awarded to the riders and their horses for their Dressage performances. Russell took Silver and Marjoribanks was awarded the Bronze. Gold went to Hannah Beaulieu of Maple Ridge (Fraser Valley – Zone 3).
Over 2300 athletes are competing in 20 sports at venues throughout Surrey. With an average athlete age of 14 years, the BC Games are an important step for athletes towards provincial and national team programs. The BC Games are a training ground for the best young athletes in the province. Twenty-five members of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team are BC Games alumni. Over 3,000 community volunteers are contributing to the success of the Games.