Two photos of Castlegar athlete Cheryl Closkey who will compete in track and field events in Kamloops in August during the BC Seniors Games. Closeky

Local athletes ready to bring medals back to Kootenays

Castlegar and area will be well-represented in Kamloops at what is expected to be one of the largest seniors games ever.

The BC Seniors Games are edging closer and athletes in the Kootenays are gearing up to be part of the thousands who will arrive in Kamloops August 20 – 24.

Athletes from Castlegar, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Kaslo, Nakusp, Nelson, Rossland, Salmo and Trail will represent the West Kootenay Boundary (Zone 6), during the games.

One of those competing is Castlegar’s Cheryl Closkey, owner of B.C. and Canadian records in both hammer and weight throws, at 25.5 metres and 10.7 metres respectively. She also competes in javelin and discus events.

Closkey is heading for the 2013 Canadian Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Regina from July 26 to 28 before going on to compete in Kamloops.

A life-long athlete who now prefers discus, javelin, hammer and weight throwing over basketball (in part because of seven knee surgeries), Closkey was training hard at Hayley Field near Trail on Monday, July 15.

“I start off [training] easy to reinforce what I’m doing,” said Closkey. Jack, her husband and coach, also keeps a close eye on her training, providing constant feedback in her body position and technique. “There’s a qualifying distance for discus where you get three throws but all six throws count toward your final results.”

Jack said that with javelin, the shoulders “need to open up” to equate to a good performance. He added most good javelin throwers don’t hit their peak until they are in their 30’s.

There will be 26 events spread out across the city, from darts at Desert Gardens Seniors Complex to swimming and track and field at the Tournament Capital Centre and many more.

Mary Strandt, registration results and communications person for the games, said so far 3,563 athletes are participating in events; this does not include the hundreds of officials, volunteers and sponsors needed for such a large undertaking.

“It’s the second largest in the last 26 years and we’re only a hundred under that number,” said Strandt. “It’s going to be incredible. If you know Riverside Park, we’ve got the dragon boating, lawn bowling and tennis and it is also our headquarters. The park is going to be hopping.”

After opening ceremonies that include a torch lighting event and parade of athletes, the participants will have entertainment, banquets and dances to keep them busy between events.

Of course, closing ceremonies are also always a highlight of the games and will be held at the Tournament Capital Centre, a fantastic venue (and summer training site of the BC Lions) located near Thompson Rivers University.

The McArthur Island Sports Complex will play host to soccer, curling and hockey and another facility just north of Rayleigh will see plenty of softball action.

Strandt said the new Tournament Ranch Capital, located just north of Rayleigh, will be used for softball and she described it as one of the best facilities in Kamloops.

Cyclists will also see plenty of the interior city, dubbed “The Tournament Capital,” as routing will take them out from Kamloops toward Dallas and back.

The Closkey’s said they were looking forward to being in Kamloops and will be staying at Lac Le Jeune during the games, as Jack’s family has property there.

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