Little wins six medals at NAIG

Pamela Little earned six medals at the North American Indigenous Games in Regina, Sask., late last month.

Swimming at the highest level she’s competed at to date, Pamela Little earned six medals at the North American Indigenous Games in Regina, Sask., late last month.

Little, a member of the Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club, won a gold medal as a member of the Mixed 16&U 200m free relay team. She won two more relay medals, earning silver in the Mixed 16&U 200m medley relay and the Mixed 16&U 400m free relay. As well, Little won a silver medal in the Girls 16&U 100m breaststroke and another one in the Girls 16&U 100m butterfly.

During the Games, Little also finished fifth in the Girls 16&U 100m freestyle, sixth in the Girls 16&U 50m butterfly and seventh in the Girls 16&U 50m freestyle. All but one of her times were personal bests.

The North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) is an international multi-sport event, involving North American Indigenous athletes from 13 Canadian provinces and territories and 13 regions in the United States, staged intermittently since 1990. The 2014 NAIG took place in the Regina from July 20-27 and brought together 4,800 Indigenous athletes and coaches and 200 cultural performers.

“It was awesome,” said Little, who has been swimming for four years.

This year, Team BC made history at the North American Indigenous Games, becoming the first team in the history of the Games to win both the Overall Team Title and the John Fletcher Spirit Award. The John Fletcher Spirit Award is presented to the contingent that best demonstrates the spirit of teamwork, fair play, respect and integrity throughout the competition.

Team BC competed in 13 sports and won a total of 160 medals (63 gold, 49 silver and 48 bronze) over the course of the competition week. This put the team in first place, just one medal ahead of Team Saskatchewan. This is the first time BC has won the Overall Team Title at the NAIG.

Little thinks being part of Team BC was a great experience.

“It was basically like you were part of a family,” she said.

Little says she feels good about her swimming at the NAIG, and she is proud of all her swims. She enjoyed competing in relays and says it was fun to work as a team.

“It was amazing to actually win a medal,” she said, adding she had no idea going into the competition that she would do so well.

Little says she enjoyed Saskatchewan, and her favourite part of competing at the NAIG was meeting everyone.

She says swimming in such a big competition “was scary at first, then after a while, it was good.”

The Orcas’ season starts again in September, and after doing so well at the NAIG, Little is excited to get going again and to reach her next goal, which is to earn her AA time.

“It makes me feel more confident about what’s going to happen next,” she says of winning the NAIG medals.

Little’s coach, Dusan Toth-Szabo, is proud of Little for her accomplishments this summer.

“It’s really great the Orcas are represented at so many levels, and hopefully it’s going to be inspiring to other kids from the aboriginal community to try swimming,” he said. “This is great, going there for the first time ever and winning six medals.”