Team Yukon showed its true spirit at the 2014 Canada 55+ Games last week in Strathcona County, Alta.
In addition to placing third in the medal standings, Yukon was given the Spirit of the Games award, which honours the contingent with the greatest sportsmanship, enthusiasm and courtesy towards others.
Like any Games the territory attends, Yukon was also loud and proud in the spectator stands.
“We were very happy with how we performed and how we interacted with other teams,” said Tom Parlee, president of ElderActive, the Yukon organization that assembles the team for the Games. “We won the Spirit of the Games award and we’re the only one to win it four times out of eight times. Everybody loved our uniforms and we’re just really excited.
“Everybody I talked to on our team were just thrilled with the experience.”
It was the largest team Yukon has ever sent to the Games with 132 participants, up from 79 at the last Games in 2012.
The territory came away with a total of 64.5 medals to place third in the medal count by the end of the Games on Saturday. (Half points were given in the event of a tie.)
The hosting Alberta team, with the largest team at the Games with 731, collected a total of 334 medals.
Team Saskatchewan, with the second largest team of 295, won 124 medals.
B.C.‘s team of 179 pocketed 61 medals, and Nova Scotia came in fifth with 55 medals.
Neighbouring N.W.T., who had a team of 64 athletes, won 15 medals. Nunavut, with the smallest team at the Games with four, was the only jurisdiction to leave empty-handed with no hardware.
Like the 2012 Games, at which Yukon won 76 medals, the majority of hardware came in track and field and swimming – events in which more medals are up for grabs.
Yukon’s track team of 17 athletes collected a total of 26 medals. (Official medals results were still pending at press time.)
Not too shabby, considering Whitehorse no longer has a track or athletics training facility. The only track in town was dug up in the construction of the new F.H. Collins Secondary School.
“We have worked with (athletics Yukon head coach) Don White, and with Don we were able to set up twice-weekly practices since June,” said Whitehorse’s Brenda Dion. “We had the F.H. Collins makeshift grass field until July, and then they started digging that field up too. Then I think we threw the javelins around once at Porter Creek (Secondary) and Christ the King (Elementary) once.”
Dion led the team in gold medals with four, including ones in the 50- and 100-metre sprints, for women over 55.
“Don worked with me this year on sprint starts and he’d be very proud to know I had very good sprint starts this year, and even had better times than the last senior Games,” said Dion.
Teammate Donna Jones ran to four medals on the track in the same age group, taking gold in the 400-metre, silver in the 800- and 200-metre and a bronze in a relay.
Jones led Team Yukon in medals with seven at her first Games in 2012.
“It was absolutely fabulous,” said Jones. “There are so many inspiring people. We went over to the throwing events and saw a woman (Alberta’s Florence Storch) who is 101 years old and throws the javelin. And talking with people who are in the high 80s and still out there competing and keeping fit, and looking forward to the next Games. You come away truly inspired.”
Eight Yukon communities outside of Whitehorse were represented on the team.
Watson Lake’s John and Naomi Hall, and Dave Kalles, won a total of 10 medals between them in track and field events.
“We think this is inspiring more people to come out and try track and field, and we certainly welcome lots of people to come out,” said Dion. “It’s fantastic because you have running sports, jumping sports, throwing sports, and we have the walking activities. So there’s lots to do.”
Yukon won 16 medals in swimming. Linda Augustine led the swim team with three gold and a silver. Stephen Duncan also pocked four medals in the pool with two gold and two bronze.
Yukon cyclists pedaled to seven medals in Strathcona, up from three at the 2012 Games.
Whitehorse’s Mike McCann won gold in the 40-kilometre time trial Thursday and the 60-kilometre road race Friday for men 65 and over. It was his first time competing at the Canada 55+ Games.
“It was quite good. It was pretty well organized in the global sense,” said McCann. “People were extremely friendly and helpful and it was a good experience.”
Last week’s Team Yukon was the largest the territory has ever sent to the Games, but many on the team would have liked it to be a little bigger. Whitehorse’s William “Bill” Simpson, who passed away in June, was a long-time supporter of ElderActive and the Games.
“The Spirit of the Games was so significant because we lost Bill Simpson this year and Bill was like our mentor, our leader, in terms of ElderActive and the senior Games,” said Dion. “We all had on a little sticker that said ‘Bill’ with a heart on it. And we know Bill would be so proud of us to come back with that award.
“That’s the most special award because it’s all about friendship and good sporting behaviour and people doing their best.”
Contact Tom Patrick at
Team Yukon medals
Track and field
Pamela Bangart – triple jump (women 60+)
Brenda Dion – 50m (women 55+)
Brenda Dion – 100m (women 55+)
Brenda Dion – javelin (women 55+)
Brenda Dion – discus (women 55+)
Merton Friesen – predicted walk (open women)
John Hall – 50m (men 75+)
Donna Jones – 400m (women 55+)
Hank Leenders – javelin (men 75+)
Tom Parlee – javelin (men 65+)
Tom Parlee – long jump (men 65+)
Tom Parlee – discus (men 65+)
Gail Craigen – 5km (women 65+)
Laurie Drummond – 10km (women 55+)
Naomi Hall – predicted walk (women 70+)
Donna Jones – 800m (women 55+)
Donna Jones – 200m (women 55+)
Dave Kalles – 1,500m (men 75+)
Dave Kalles – 400m (men 75+)
Dave Kalles – 800m (men 75+)
Dave Kalles – 3km (men 75+)
Tom Parlee – shot put (men 65+)
Sheila Senger – 10km (women 65+)
Nick Stratis – 800m (men 55+)
Richard Zral – 5km (men 70+)
Richard Zral – 800m (men 70+)
Richard Zral – 3km (men 70+)
Richard Zral – 1,500m (men 70+)
John Hall – long jump (men 75+)
John Hall – 100m (men 75+)
John Hall – triple Jump (men 75+)
Naomi Hall – discus (women 70+)
Roger Hanberg – 400m (men 60+)
Nick Stratis – 1,500m (men 55+)
Richard Zral – 400m (men 70+)
Richard Zral – 10km (men 70+)
Linda Augustine – 100m
backstroke (women 60+)
Linda Augustine – 50m
butterfly (women 60+)
Linda Augustine – 100m IM (women 60+)
Stephen Duncan – 50m freestyle (men 60+)
Stephen Duncan – 100m freestyle (men 60+)
Nesta Leduc – 100m backstroke (women 80+)
Nesta Leduc – 50m backstroke (women 80+)
Linda Augustine – 50m
freestyle (women 60+)
Nesta Leduc – 50m freestyle (women 80+)
Nesta Leduc – 100m freestyle (women 80+)
Barbara Phillips – 50m backstroke (women 70+)
Barbara Phillips – 100m backstroke (women 70+)
Sharon Westburg – 50m backstroke (women 65+)
Stephen Duncan – 50m breaststroke (men 60+)
Stephen Duncan – 100m backstroke (men 60+)
Spence Hill – predicted 200m (women 60+)
Gail Craigen – 10km time trial (women 65+)
Gail Craigen – 20km road race (women 65+)
Louise Girard -60km road race (women 55+)
Mike McCann – 40km time trial (men 65+)
Mike McCann – 60km road race (men 65+)
Mike Craigen – 20km (men 65+)
Louise Girard – 40km time trial (women 55+)
Colleen Tyrner – Scrabble (open mixed)
Tom Amson – golf (men 55+)
Gary Hewiit – doubles darts (men 55+)
Bocce (mixed 55+)
Bocce (women 70+)
Ida Calmegane – five-pin bowling (women 85+)
Dorothy Drummond/Edna Knight – floor shuffleboard (women 55+)
Norm Unrau – five-pin bowling (men 55+)