BC Games first step for athletes

When the Olympic and Paralympic Games begin, there are a number of Canadian athletes who will remember their first experience at a BC Games.

When the Olympic and Paralympic Games begin in London, there are a number of Canadian athletes who will remember their first multi-sport experience at a BC Games.

Twenty-four athletes on the Canadian Olympic team started their journey to London with a trip to the BC Games including 2008 Olympic gold medalist Carol Huynh (wrestling) and recent Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (cycling). As part of the athlete development pathway, the BC Games are a first multi-sport experience for young athletes and lead towards provincial and national teams, and ultimately the Olympic or Paralympic Games. The BC Games are part of a strong provincial sport system that provides an outstanding training environment and support services for high performance athletes. Forty per cent of the Canadian Olympic team live or train in B.C.

Shot-putter Dylan Armstrong of Kamloops is one of Canada’s great medal hopes at the 2012 Olympic Games. He is a shining example of a B.C. athlete who has developed to international success with support through all the stages of the athlete pathway. Involved at a young age with the Kamloops Track and Field Club, he represented the Thompson-Okanagan Zone at the 1995 and 1996 BC Summer Games. Success as part of Team BC at the 2001 Canada Games was next before winning gold for Canada at the 2007 and 2010 Pan American Games. All eyes are on this BC Games alumnus to better his fourth place finish from the 2008 Olympic Games.

Swimmer Brent Hayden of Mission is another medal contender in London. Brent competed at the 1998 BC Summer Games and reflected, “The BC Summer Games was the point in my career when I realized that I had the potential to go further. It was soon after that that I decided to switch from being a summer swimmer to training all year round. It is clear that I wouldn’t have noticed my own potential without the BC Summer Games.”

The full Paralympic team will be named later this summer, but former BC Games athletes Bo Hedges of Fort St. John (wheelchair basketball) and Adam Rahier of Powell River (swimming) will be part of the team.

Over 2,300 athletes between the ages of 10 and 18 will be at the 2012 BC Summer Games, which kick off just one week prior to the start of the Olympics. It is an inspiring experience that will ignite the dreams of many young athletes to pursue their sport to the highest level.

A veteran of the Canadian Women’s Soccer team, Karina LeBlanc from Maple Ridge remembered, “It was an amazing experience because I did dream of one day being at the Olympic Games and it was the closest thing for me to it, so it made me want to be there that much more!”

Watch for the next generation of Olympians and Paralympians at the 2012 BC Summer Games, July 19 to 22. See the complete list of BC Games alumni heading to London at www.bcgames.org.

—Submitted by Black Press, official media sponsor of BC Summer Games

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