For a quarter century, senior athletes in B.C. have been travelling across the province to compete in the BC Senior Games, a weekend-long competition that combines traditional sporting events like track and field, cycling, bowling and golf with non-contact events like bridge.
This year, the northwest zone, Zone 10, is sending 94 participants out of 182 members. Zone 10 is comprised of athletes from Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat and Haida Gwaii. About a third of the athletes are from Terrace.
The first games were held in Vernon in 1988 with 650 participants in 15 events, since then, it’s grown exponentially, with this year’s competition in Burnaby anticipating 3200 participants in 26 events. About 1500 volunteers, including a number of young people, help the games run smoothly.
There are 20 “core sports” that the host city has to have venues to support, says the director of Zone 10, Bill Whitty. The host city then gets to pick six “demo” sports to host – these are sports like dragon boating, or a game called pickle ball, similar to badminton or paddle ball, that’s been in years previous but isn’t included this year.
This years games are special, because it’s the 25th anniversary. Whitty says that in the province there are only about 11 people who have been involved as a member for all 25 of those years – and five of those people are in Zone 10.
Since you need to be 55 to join, this means the youngest of those quarter-centurion gamers is 80.
“I have no hesitation in saying that the Summer Games is the second best alternative health program the province has to offer,” says Whitty, noting that athletes look forward to and prepare for the games all year.
The games is a great chance to be social, with Zone 10 hosting a Zone 10 social on the last night of the games where participants get to compare the experiences they’ve had spread out across the host city at different venues. And for being a small zone, Zone 10 doesn’t do too bad competition-wise.
But, said Whitty, the games are about more than winning.
“Everybody likes the idea of a medal,” he said. “But it’s really about the companionship and camaraderie. If you get a medal, that’s a bonus.”