With less than 100 days to go, the reality is setting in that Greater Victoria will in fact be hosting this year’s 55-Plus BC Games, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a false start.
That feeling was on display Tuesday at the Berwick Royal Oak, where the Games relay torch was passed through a line of dignitaries and eventually to Berwick residents, with Crysta Davidson doing the honours. A former seniors games softball and basketball player in Ontario, she drew a big cheer as she ignited the metal cauldron.
Afterward Greater Victoria organizing committee president Michael O’Connor voiced his anticipation for the Games, scheduled for Sept. 13 to 17 at sites across the region and opening officially Sept. 14 at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
“I’m becoming more and more excited now as we get closer,” he said, noting the committee has worked over two years on the Games. “We were deferred for a year because of COVID, and the (2020) Richmond Games were cancelled, so I’m glad we’re finally going to get on the stage and have a go at it.”
The coming weeks will see a major push to recruit volunteers. Roughly 750 are registered, but another 750 are needed in various positions, from event-related and behind the scenes jobs to hospitality roles.
O’Connor pointed out this is the first major multi-sport Games to be held in Greater Victoria since the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
“Without volunteers, it wouldn’t happen, and the same was true 28 years ago. There’s a lot of people who volunteered for the Commonwealth Games who’ve come out and joined us for these Games. So we hope we can put together a complete package and then when it comes to the next bid, for whatever those Games might be, we’re ready.”
Chemainus resident Donna Tyrrell, Zone 1 director since 2010 – and a 2022 swim competitor – was part of the original bid discussions and looks forward to seeing the south Island host the Games. Under her leadership are 33 sport coordinators, all of whom are volunteers.
Bob McCauley is one of them. He’s overseeing horseshoes and will also compete during the Games at the Victoria Horseshoe club in Saanich. With interest growing in his sport as public health restrictions eased, he voiced excitement for local clubs and venues to have a chance to show off their facilities to visitors from around the province.
Guest speaker Kristen Kit, coxswain for the Canadian women’s eight crew that won Olympic gold in Tokyo 2020, told the crowd her partner’s mother inspired her to continue reaching for Olympic success at age 33.
“The people who will come and compete at this event … are inspiring people like me in my current shoes, right now, training for my fourth Games. And that’s why this Games is so crucial for our community. We need role models, we need people competing within the community and setting that vision for everyone around,” she said.
She projected that many spectators who watch the 55-Plus Games in September will be inspired to lace up their running shoes, become more active “and live a bit of a healthier lifestyle because of what they see in our community, and that is worth it. That is worth all the effort you’re going to put into this event.”
To register to volunteer, visit 55plusbcgames.org and click on the Volunteer Now button, and cruise the site to find other important information about the Games.
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