In praise of strong women and fast men

There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth. Those 53 countries have 1.8 billion people — roughly 30 per cent of all the people on the globe.

There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth.

Those 53 countries have 1.8 billion people — roughly 30 per cent of all the people on the globe.

That’s an awful lot of people.

And once every four years, these nations, all bound by their allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, send their best athletes to compete against one another in a host of events known as the Commonwealth Games, the friendly games.

They were launched in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1930.

Back then, 11 countries sent 400 athletes. Hamilton chipped in $30,000 to cover their travel costs.

It has grown significantly since then.

Today, in Melbourne, Australia, more than 6,000 athletes are competing in 16 events.

There, Yukon weightlifter Jeane Lassen captured a gold medal in the 69-kilogram class

In fact, she did better than that.

Lassen lifted 97 kilograms in the snatch and 132 kilograms in the clean and jerk, setting a Games record.

And that is extraordinary.

But it gets better.

Emily Quarton, another Yukon weightlifter, won silver.

Quarton was competing in the 58-kilogram class, her first appearance before the Commonwealth.

She snatched 77 kilograms and lifted 101 in the clean and jerk for a total of 178 kilograms.

Now, we turn to cycling.

Biker Zach Bell set a Canadian track-cycling record last week in the 4,000-metre men’s individual pursuit. He placed ninth in the event.

Again, an incredible achievement.

That the territory, a jurisdiction of just 30,000 people, could be competitive among a 53-nation club boasting 1.8 billion people is amazing.

That one of its citizens set a national cycling record and two others won medals in a single event is, frankly, staggering.

That one of those three set a Commonwealth record in weightlifting is … well, what more can you say?

In total, the Canadian women’s weightlifting team will bring home six medals — two gold, three silver and a bronze.

Its two Yukon members contributed enormously to that effort.

The Yukoners competing at the Commonwealth Games deserve heaps of praise for their success.

They are an inspiration for every Yukon athlete to succeed them. (RM)

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