Thursday April 24, 2014






Hometown kids shine at Games

Kamloops athletes earn 27 medals as first half comes to a close
Shane Kurki

B.C.’s Kianna Lalond dribbles downcourt in the girls’ basketball final against Manitoba on Tuesday at the Tournament Capital Centre. B.C. won the gold medal after winning 61-60.

What lasting impact the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games will have on Kamloops has yet to be seen, but a whole boatload of medals will be remaining in town.

The nine Kamloops athletes competing in the first half of the Games picked up an incredible
27 medals. There are no events today, as it is a changeover day for athletes and organizers, and the second half of competition starts Thursday.

Kamloops itself can take the day to celebrate the nine teenagers who had an incredible run at the Games.

The host city's four canoeists - Brook McLean, Jakob Huth, Keiffer Johnson and Zach Morgan - combined to win 20 medals, with Johnson and McLean winning seven apiece.

"To add that to B.C.'s overall medal totals, it's very humbling and it makes you very proud," said Johnson, 16. "To be able to contribute that much, it's incredible."

There are only two Kamloops athletes competing in the second week: cyclist Tori Spence and volleyball player Matt Lofgren.

They'll be coming in riding the momentum of a strong Kamloops performance, and might just get their hands on some gold as well.

"It's really exciting to be able to go home with my gold medal," said Riley Oien, who helped the B.C. girls basketball team to a gold medal at the Tournament Capital Centre on Tuesday. "I can tell people I won it at the TCC."

Other local medals were picked up by Aiden Smith, whose B.C. baseball team lost 6-4 to Alberta in Tuesday's final, but still ended up with a silver medal, and Joe Davis, whose B.C. boys basketball team dominated the competition and got a gold medal for its work.

"I'm so excited - this is great," Davis said. "All the guys are smiling on the bench . . . we're so happy."

Tamara Ghering and Alize Perriard each picked up a pair of medals - the local wrestlers helped B.C. finish third in the girls team competition Monday.

In the individual competition, Perriard won gold, beating Manitoba's Amber Wiebe 7-1 in the final of the 46-kilogram division. Ghering picked up a silver medal, as she was defeated 7-0 by Edmonton's Stephanie Osburn in the under-40kg division.

They'll no doubt have the memories of a great five days at their hometown Games, just like the rest of the athletes.

"At first, I was thinking that this wouldn't be a big event, or since it's my hometown, it wouldn't be fun . . . not as fun as going somewhere else," said McLean, 15. "I think it made winning all these medals so much more special."

McLean won two gold medals in the canoe, in the C4 200 metres and C4 1,000m, to go along with three silver (C2 1,000m; C2 500m; C4 1,000m) and two bronze (war canoe and C1 200m).

Johnson, 16, ended with two silver (C2 200m; C1 1,000m), five bronze (C1 200m; war canoe; C2 500m; C2 2,000m; C2 1,000m) and a sore body.

He hurt himself in the war canoe, a 500m race featuring all 16 members of each team crammed into canoes.

"I was doing the race, took a funny stroke and felt something pop," Johnson said. "Saw the chiropractor and found out the damage was that I popped out a rib, sprained another and pulled my lat.

"He told me that I wasn't supposed to do anything with my arms for about a week, and I told him I was going to race."

That he did, and he came back to win bronze medals in the C2 2,000m and the C1 200m.

"I took Advil, Aleve, Tylenol," Johnson said. "For the 2,000m, I got out of the car and people were asking if I would do it - I said, 'Let's medal,' and we went out and did it."

Johnson's teammate in all of the C2 boats was Morgan, 15, who ended with a silver and four bronze medals. Jakob Huth, 15, got a bronze medal in the war canoe, which was a tough race for all, but especially Johnson and Morgan.

"It's a squeeze - I was in the front, in the front bulkhead part," Morgan said. "It took some skin off my legs . . . from moving around.

"It was a hard race, really painful. I was coughing up weird stuff at the end, almost puked."

Like Johnson, McLean also was injured, and had to go into Kamloops for a tape job and massage on her left wrist, which bothered her for the entire Games.

"We still haven't put our finger on it," she said. "It's been really bothering me - we did the two-kilometre and it was unbearable, very painful."

Despite the paddlers going crazy with heats and finals for the better part of three days, it all seems to have flown by.

The experience of getting to compete at the major multisport competition in their hometown - and also to do extremely well - has been amazing, they all agree.

"If I had to use one word, it would be - Wow!" Johnson said. "To be in your hometown racing, and expecting to get one or two medals, then to win seven medals, it's incredible."

Morgan, whose sister, Kate, penned the Games' official song and sang it at the opening ceremonies, also got a kick out of the week.

"It's a really cool event overall," Zach said. "I got to meet a lot of new people, it was all pretty good."

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca





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