By: Debbie Schween, Mission Staff, Artistic Swim
They call these “Canada’s Olympics” and before the Canada Winter Games had even officially opened, I was witness to the spirit that advocates for friendship, solidarity, and fair play. As the Manitoba athletes filled their busses to head to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2019 Canada Games, one lone young man with “Team BC” embroidered on his toque joined our crowd after missing his team’s bus. The boy in blue and white walked through the throng of black and yellow amid all the hoots and hollers - in good natured fun - all the way to the back of the bus, where he stopped. Everyone turned to watch as the artistic swimming athletes moved aside to give the BC boxer a seat right in the middle with them - Friendly Manitoba indeed!
The pin exchange started the conversation, as it often does, and in no-time the questions evolved. “How many weight classes are there in boxing?” “What happens if you touch the bottom of the pool during your competition?” Snapchat handles were shared, Manitoba’s ringette team started a chant: “When I say Mani - you say Toba! Mani! Toba! Mani! Toba!", and the BC boxer just smiled. The bus arrived at the Centrium for the Opening Ceremonies and as the boxer ran ahead to meet up with his team, the Manitoba swimmers called after him “Hey BC, what’s your name?...”
These are all competitive young people; high-performance athletes who have worked long and hard to get to these Games. But in that moment on the bus, it was about having some fun, making friends, and savouring the experience. This is one of the many seemingly small, but at the same time very big reasons why these Games are so important. Thanks to the Red Deer community and Host Society for continuing to foster this spirit. Let the Games begin!