Former Eastman athletes are role models to the hundreds of athletes taking in the opening ceremony of the Power Smart Manitoba Summer Games hope to one day emulate.
As torch bearers for Sunday’s event, six of the most accomplished athletes in the host region of Eastman were recognized for their accomplished sporting résumés. Steffan Reimer, 27, from Blumenort, ran his first marathon as a 17-year-old. After a hiatus, he took up distance running again last year and ran three marathons, including a sixth place finish in Regina’s Queen City Marathon in which he qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon, where, running alongside 30,000 other runners, Reimer finished in the top five percent. And this June, he finished third in the Manitoba Marathon while setting a new personal record of completing in under three hours.
Steinbach’s Bryan Gueret has participated in Special Olympics sports for 25 years. He is a multiple provincial medalist in track and cross-country skiing. This March, Bryan competed in cross-country skiing at the Special Olympics Canada Games in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. In his first appearance at the national level, he brought home a silver medal in the 500-metre race and gold in the 1 km race.
Mitchell Martens, from Steinbach, won gold in soccer at the 2008 Power Smart Manitoba Games. Attending Providence University College, Mitchell played soccer and volleyball, and in his graduating year, Martens was captain of the soccer team. He was awarded league MVP and made the All-American first team. Mitchell was chosen as Providence's male athlete of the year for the 2015-2016 season and now plays soccer for the Hanover Kickers in Steinbach.
Oakbank’s Samantha Renooy, along with her Eastman soccer team, won gold at the 2008 Power Smart Manitoba Games. She participated in ringette in the 2010 Games in Portage la Prairie, placing fourth. As an AA ringette player, Renooy has two medals from the Canadian Ringette Championships: one gold and a silver medal. Internationally, she won bronze in 2012 at the World Ringette Championships. Last February, she won gold with Team Manitoba at the Canada Winter Games—the first time ever for a Manitoba team. She was named the recipient of the prestigious Roland Michener Award. This year, as part of the national ringette team, Sam competed at the World Ringette Championships and brought home gold.
Michelle Sawatzky-Koop of Steinbach led her volleyball team to the 1987 AA Provincial Championship. The starting setter on the 1989 Canada Summer Games bronze medal team, she was recruited to play with the University of Manitoba Bisons. At the U of M she was the starting setter as they won the national championship three years in a row. Throughout her university career she garnered many personal awards: she was named CIAU Player of the Year three times and was a two time CUAU Player of the Year. She was also named the University of Manitoba Female Athlete of the year. Internationally, Michelle was a member of the junior national team in 1990. In 1995, she was part of the bronze medal finish at the Pan American Games in Argentina. In 1996, the team competed at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.