Sports

Getting set for B.C. Winter Games

With the 2012 BC Winter Games set to start in Vernon Feb. 23 to 26, spirit is building in communities across B.C.

The brainchild of Premier W.R. Bennett, the Games began in 1978 in Penticton. Since then, 38 communities across the province have hosted the Games, some of them more than once.

More than 200,000 people have volunteered and more than 150,000 athletes have competed since it began.

Thirty-one athletes from the Shuswap are listed as participants in this year’s games, participating in badminton, curling, hockey, judo, ringette, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing and speed skating.

“One of the most important benefits of hosting a BC Games is how it brings a community together,” says Henry Pejril, president of the 2006 BC Summer Games in Kamloops. “There aren’t many opportunities like a Games that can capture the full cross-section of a community. The feeling of pride and accomplishment lasts in a host city for many years to come.”

Many well-known athletes had their start at the BC Games, including Tour de France cyclist Ryder Hesjedal and 2010 Olympic women’s snowboarding cross gold medallist Maelle Ricker, who are among the alumni who say their dreams of international competition began at the BC Games.

Surrey will host the 2012 BC Summer Games in July.

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