EDITORIAL: From B.C. Games to Olympic dreams

Young B.C. athletes will be inspired this weekend by their Canadian Olympic counterparts

Before Victoria’s own Jamie Benn played for Team Canada in Russia, he played hockey at the 2004 B.C. Winter Games. And more than a decade before speed skater Denny Morrison captured gold and silver medals at the Turin, Vancouver and Sochi Olympics, he raced at the B.C. Winter Games.

More than 50 Greater Victoria athletes are following in the footsteps of many B.C.-raised Olympians before them, taking part in the biannual showcase of young athletic talent.

For some, this will be another exciting opportunity for them to compete in their sport alongside some of the best up-and-coming athletes B.C. has to offer. For others, this will be their first taste of competition on such a large scale.

Young athletes in Victoria are lucky to have an abundance of sporting opportunities, with teams and leagues available nearby that span all ages and skill levels.

It’s a different story in our province’s small towns, where sports are less accessible, given there are fewer nearby competitors and athletes must travel greater distances to compete.

As British Columbians, we are proud that an opportunity such as the B.C. Games exists for young athletes to experience that large-scale competition atmosphere. Without these opportunities, we risk kids losing interest in or having to give up the sports they enjoy playing.

With a significant list of Olympic alumni, the B.C. Games has become a traditional stop on the path to bigger games for young athletes.

As our nation’s homegrown talent competes on the world stage in Russia this weekend, they will no doubt inspire many young athletes at the B.C. Games to dig a little deeper and come up with their best efforts.

Whether it’s Morrison, from Fort St. John, standing on the podium in Sochi, or the promise of a medal from Benn and his four B.C.-reared teammates on Team Canada, we as British Columbians take pride in our athletes’ Olympic successes.

Providing kids with sport-related opportunities like the B.C. Games is critical – it’s the best way to show our support for tomorrow’s Olympians today.