Nelson’s Wayne Naka now president of the BC 55+ Games, says the recent 2015 games in North Vancouver went off without a hitch, and electricity in some cases, as the Lower Mainland was hit with a powerful windstorm.
Before talking about the daunting task of organizing the colossal event, Naka praised the 87 West Kootenay/Boundary Zone 6 competitors, of whom 64 per cent came home with medals.
“We have world class athletes here,” said Naka, pointing out that on the last day Nelson cyclist Chris Desjardins biked four kilometres “straight up” in nine minutes in the wind and rain.
Amazing swimmer Marylee Banyard of Nelson is in her 80s.
Zone 6 won 26 gold, 28 silver, and 11 bronze medals for a total of 65 medals, to finish eighth out of 13 zones.
Desjardins won multiple medals in cycling and Nelson’s Marylee Banyard won four gold medals in the women’s 80-84 category for 50M butterfly, 100m individual medley, 200m individual medley and 400m freestyle.
In hockey the Kootenay Glacier Kings 60-plus team won gold and the Kootenay Glacier Kings 55plus team won silver.
“Pretty darned impressive,” said former Zone 6 director Brooke Campbell.
Zone 6 is comprised of the cities of Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Kaslo, Nakusp, Rossland, Salmo, and areas in between.
“Zone 6 had a small but mighty contingent of participants,” said Campbell. “I am so proud to be working with and for these amazing athletes. They exhibit everything that is great about living a healthy life and not allowing age to deter them from their goals.”
Campbell has accepted a new role of communications for the provincial board. The organization is looking for a new director for Zone 6. Anyone interested can contact Campbell at email@example.com.
The games were first organized in 1987, with the assistance of the provincial government. The games are hosted in different communities throughout BC each year, and have an average participation upwards of 4,000, leaving behind an economic impact of more than $6 million in each host community.
Coquitlam will host the 2016 games and Naka says it’s a vast task. While he wraps up the 2015 games with one community, he is in full preparation mode with next year’s host.
Nelson’s June Johnson (left) getting her silver medal for the 100m freestyle.
Over the next three to four years he will continue to focus on sustainability for the games. With rising costs for athletes and host cities, his aim is to have as much in place to stave off volunteer burnout, another real concern. Opening ceremonies and a dance for 4,000 athletes adds to the workload on top of planning 28 competitive sporting events.
Future host cities were announced last week —all of them in the interior.
Vernon will host Sept. 12 to 16, 2017, which is the society’s 30th anniversary. The following year, the games move closer to home as Cranbrook and Kimberley won the games for Sept. 11 to 15, 2018. Kelowna will host for Sept. 10 to 14, 2019.
“There is going to be a whole lotta fun and action coming to the interior of BC in the next few years,” said Campbell.
“We champion the idea of life-long activity and friendly competition. We celebrate British Columbians who are 55-plus as valuable role models and believe in the health and social benefits of participation.”
Zone 6 Results for Nelson athletes
Marylee Banyard (Nelson)
Gold 50m butterfly
Gold 100m individual medley
Gold 200m individual medley
Gold 400m individual medley
Gold 25m butterfly
June Johnston (Nelson)
4th 50m butterfly
4th 100m breaststroke
Silver 100m freestyle
6th 50m freestyle
4th 100m individual medley
Chris Desjardins (Nelson)
Silver Time trial – Competitive
Silver Road race – competitive
Gold Hill climb – competitive
Sharisse Kyle (Nelson)
Silver Time trial – competitive
Silver Road race – competitive
Silver Hill climb – competitive
Sandra Fuller (Nelson)
4th Road race – competitive
Howie Ridge (Nelson)
Bronze Div A 0-17.0 index
Gold Div B 17.1 – 36.4 index
Keith Stetsko (Crescent Valley)
Silver Compound bow with sight with release aid Target & 3D
Sprints – 100m Silver, 200m Silver, 400m Gold
Middle distance runs – 800m Silver, 1,500m Gold
Power walk – 5,000m Gold