In just under a week, the 2105 Canada Winter Games will open in our city. It is time to get excited if you are not so already.
Strangely there are people out there who think it is no big deal. They are wrong; it is a very big deal. The Games are the preview of the next Olympic Games. The participants are the cream of the youth athletes from over 800 towns and cities in Canada. There will be participants in these Games who will be on the podium in future Olympics.
Of the 18 medals won by Canadian athletes in the 2012 Olympics, 11 were Canada Games alumni. Sixteen of the Canadian medal winners in the 2010 Olympics were Canada Games alumni. That is more than half of the Canadian medals. In simple terms, some of the young athletes you will be watching and cheering on in Prince George you will cheer for in the next Olympics.
Toller Cranston was a gold medal winner at the first Canada Winter Games held in Quebec City in 1967. Bob Gainey was a gold medal winner for hockey in 1971. Hayley Wickenheiser, who did such a magnificent job of leading the women’s Olympic hockey team, picked up a Canada Games gold medal in 1991. “Sid the Kid,” also known as Sidney Crosby, was at the 2003 Canada Winter Games. He and his teammates didn’t get into the medals but Sid sure as heck made up for that in the years following. It is a good example of just how competitive the Games are.
The young athletes we will see performing are the kind of young people we want to be the role models for our children.
They have talent but that talent would be nothing if it wasn’t for the endless hours of practice and learning they individually give to their sport. They are a great inspiration to other young people and their dedication sets an example for many more young people. We should applaud them regardless of where they finish in their individual field because simply being part of the Games makes each and every one of them a winner.
Along with the athletes are the coaches, parents and others who have helped them to arrive at this level of competition. They devote hours of their time and considerable cash from their own pockets to help these wonderful young people realize their potential.
As with any event of this size, a small army of volunteers is also needed. They do a hundred different jobs and are the horsepower that gives the Games their zip. Some 4,500 of these wonderful citizens of our city will give hours of their time because they believe in the youth, the Games and the city. They deserve a lot of thanks for their efforts and if you know some of them, thank them, give them a pat on the back and buy them a coffee or something.
As you wander from venue to venue you will see the logos of the corporate sponsors. Without their financial support the Games probably would not be possible. Look upon them kindly as the good corporate citizens they are. They believe in our youth and our city.
Then there is the staff who have been working diligently for several years to coordinate the Games. They have taken on a massive task that presented lots of problems needing solutions and active resolution. They have done well.
The city is going to be a busy place with several thousand athletes, coaches, parents, friends and others coming to visit our city. It is show time for Prince George on the national level. We should greet our visitors with unbounded enthusiasm.
See you out there.