Tuesday, November 21, 2006

British Columbians kick ass

The announcement of Justin Morneau from New Westminster as the American League's Most Valuable Player in baseball brings to mind how well British Columbians are doing on the world stage of sports. And how well we have done in the past. Our athletes from this sometimes obscure corner of the continent rise as the cream in whatever sport they try.
Larry Walker, from Maple Ridge, was an MVP in the National League in '97 . Jason Bay of Trail was an All Star and Rookie of the Year in 2004. Sandy Robertson gave us a taste of bigger things in the fifties when he played pro with the Vancouver Capilanos.
Most are aware of Victorian Steve Nash's double MVP awards in the NBA. Well, after all we did invent basketball.
Racing driver Greg Moore from Maple Ridge was Indy Lights champion and won the US 500 in a Champ Car until his tragic death in 1999.
The list of BC hockey players in the NHL would go on and on, beginning with Vancouver's John Ferguson, the first BC born player to make it to the NHL, and to the Montreal Canadiens no less, and in 1972, as Assistant coach of Team Canada, he helped lead us to that thrilling and historic 4-3-1 victory over the Soviets. And we can credit many more BCers who followed, including perenniel star Steve Yzerman from Cranbrooke and Cam Neely from Maple Ridge for doing us proud.
Gareth Rees, from Duncan played rugby for Canada 55 times including the first four World Rugby Cup finals.
Silken Laumann won Olympic Silver in '96 for rowing and Nancy Greene-Raine skiing out of Rossland won Gold AND Silver in 1968 and was voted Canadian Athlete-of-the-Century!
Who doesn't know Burnaby's Christine Sinclair and her flashing style in making Canada a powerhouse in women's soccer?
Terry Fox and Rick Hansen will endure forever in our hearts and minds as they made their respective marks on the world with their athleticism, undaunted by adversary! Cancer research owes much to the Marathon of Hope and Terry. Rick Hansen won 19 wheelchair marathons before tackling his Man in Motion 25,000 mile world tour.
Brian Walton won a Silver Olympic in 1996 in Cycling's grueling 100 lap point race and multi medals in many other competitions.
Doug Rogers won silver for us in 1964 Olympic Judo and many more medals and championships.
Our Lui Passaglia holds almost ALL records for kicking in professional football. Ted Hunt, another early BC Lion, had not played any competitive football until his first pro game! He was named Rookie of the Year in 1958,
George Athans and George Athans Jr won world championships in diving and water skiing.
My own small experience goes way back to the Western Sports Center gym on Hastings street. Full of old time boxers, Lenny Walters, who won the U.S. Amateur Featherweight Championship in 1951, wrestlers and weight lifters training in that basement weight room, and then there was Doug Hepburn, with his wrapped gimpy leg, breaking world records long before he won World Championship Gold and became known as the Strongest Man in the World!
BC athletes are the best, have been the best and continue to inspire hopeful BC athletes to grand accomplishments.

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