Of the 3,000 athletes and coaches set to participate in this week’s BC Summer Games in Surrey, five Ladysmith area residents are ready to give their all.
Representing Zone 6 (Vancouver Island/Sunshine Coast) are competitive swimmer Maria De Leeuw, synchronized swimmer Paige Wilson, track and field athlete Rachel Jerome, basketball player Maximillian Cummings (who was unable to be contacted by press time) and equestrian team head coach Deborah Fox.
The BC Summer Games take place over four days, starting Thursday, in 20 different sports at venues across Surrey.
For many of the athletes, such as 12-year-old Paige Wilson of Cedar, the Games will be the experience of a lifetime and a taste of the Olympic dream.
“I’m so excited but so nervous at the same time,” she said. “I just want to make sure I know what I’m doing — I want to count to my music and be as close as I can on count.”
Wilson has been a synchronized swimmer with the Nanaimo Diamonds for almost four years and was one of 10 athletes in the zone selected via competition in the fall to compete.
Synchronized swimming is a form of swimming where dance and gymnastics are combined in teams, solos, duets or trios. The groups are accompanied by music while they perform a routine in sync in the deep end of a pool. During “figures,” athletes are marked on poses that they perform for the judges, and those marks are tallied into the team’s final score, Wilson explained.
“I stuck to it because I like dancing and I like swimming,” she said. “I love going to competitions; it’s really exciting and it’s fun.”
After the Summer Games are over, Wilson plans to set her sights on trying out for the Diamonds’ national team.
“I’m looking forward to having a good experience,” she said of the Games.
For Rachel Jerome, who was featured in the May 29 edition of the Chronicle, the Games are a culmination of the effort she has put into her track and field training over the last year.
“I’ve been training up for this, and this is what I’ve been waiting for,” she said. “I’m really pumped.”
This week, Jerome will compete in long jump, triple jump and 100-metre sprints, and she is excited at the chance to surpass her personal best records.
“I feel like I’m peaking at the right time, and my coaches are playing it smart,” she said. “It feels good.”
Equestrian coach Deborah Fox has been involved with every BC Summer Games since her own daughter competed back in 1998.
Fox is a certified Equine Canada (EC) Level 2 dressage coach who has been awarded nationally by EC and provincially by the BC Horse Council. She teaches at her farm in Ladysmith and travels the Island to coach as well.
As head coach, she will be responsible for Zone 6’s five equestrian participants, who are competing in dressage, jumping and para-dressage.
When asked what motivates her to be involved with the Games for so many years, Fox concurred that the youths’ experience is invaluable and goes beyond the moments of competition.
“It made a big impact on my daughter when she went … It’s not just about the horses and the horse show. To go there, they have to work for it,” she said. “I [tell them] ‘you’re here for a reason, and cream will always rise to the top.’”
More information about the BC Summer Games can be found here.