NV athletes win gold at BC Summer Games
BY DAN KINVIG, EDWIN CHAND AND DAVID LY
For Michela Phillips, gold medals seem to run in the family.
The 17-year-old from North Vancouver (Vancouver-Squamish – Zone 5) won the BC Summer Games junior women’s wakeboard title on Friday afternoon at Abbotsford’s Albert Dyck Park.
Kathy Kreiner-Phillips, Michela’s mother, was on hand as a celebrity medal presenter, and she draped the gold medal around her daughter’s neck. Kreiner-Phillips is a former alpine skier who won Olympic gold in the giant slalom in 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria.
“It’s pretty cool, because she was also a gold medalist,” Phillips said, reflecting on the unique podium moment with her mom.
“She’s pretty inspirational. All our life, she’s told us we can do whatever we set our minds to. When she was growing up, she was always told she couldn’t do what she wanted to do. But, she keeps pushing us, and it’s really helpful.”
Phillips edged Emma McNichol of Nanoose Bay (Vancouver Island-Central Coast – Zone 6) and Rachel Maj of Langley (Fraser Valley – Zone 3) in the junior women’s division.
In the junior men’s wakeboard competition, Vancouver’s Levi Cole (Vancouver-Squamish – Zone 5) was the champ, while silver went to Cam Desloges of Shawnigan Lake (Vancouver Island-Central Coast – Zone 6) and bronze went to Jon Cole of Vancouver (Vancouver-Squamish – Zone 5).
The top three in the junior boys division were Mason Shadlock of Mill Bay (Vancouver Island-Central Coast – Zone 6), Jacob Haddon of Burnaby (Fraser River-Delta – Zone 4), and Tate Borg of Peachland (Thompson-Okanagan – Zone 2). Brooklyn Sutherland of North Vancouver (Vancouver-Squamish – Zone 5) was the girls wakeboard winner.
The barefoot water-skiers competed Friday morning in adverse conditions – steady rain, accompanied by wind, rendered the water less than placid.
“As far as barefooting goes, when it’s raining, the rain’s kind of coming at you at 40 miles an hour,” Abbotsford’s Adam Lehner (Fraser Valley Zone 3) noted with a chuckle. “It hurts your face and you can’t see very well, so it’s a little bit more challenging. And it was windy, too, so the water was pretty rough. You’ve just got to make the best of it.”
Lehner, the lone competitor in the junior men’s division, wasn’t overly happy with his trick run, but he set a personal best in the slalom.
Other barefoot medalists included Conner Brolin of Surrey (gold, boys 2 division), Kevin Lawrance of Mission (silver, boys 2) and Nicole Yonkman (gold, girls 2).
Oscar Bolaqui, the fighting pride of North Vancouver
Oscar Bulaqui of North Vancouver (Zone 5) had to make a decision at a young age: to stay with basketball or to move onto wrestling. The conflict came about because both sports take place during the same time of the year. And, while many people advised him to quit basketball, because they knew of his bright future of wrestling, it was of Bolaqui’s own will that he abided.
Oscar’s elementary and now high school coach advised him to join wrestling in Grade 8 after he passed it up in Grade 7. Reluctantly, he joined, citing his only reason as, “My coach made me wrestle and he kept on pushing me.”
Sixteen-year-old Bulaqui has been training for three years now. With a slow start to his wrestling career, he kept on striving to become better and went from fifth place in the Provincials in 2010 to second in 2011. Along with his Provincials placing, Bulaqui came second in the Nationals and fourth in the Westerns. Before matches, he likes to warm up and stretch. As for nerves, he says, “They end when I’m on the mat.”
For anyone thinking about joining wrestling or any sport for that matter, Bulaqui’s advice is simple.
“Try out, sports are for everyone,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about wrestling but now, after hard work, I’m doing very well.
“Wrestling’s given me discipline and a healthy lifestyle which allows me to have good friends.”
Although Bulaqui didn’t win gold in Surrey, he said, “I’m wrestling hard, I’ve made mistakes but I’ve learned and I’m doing good.
“My goals for next year are to take first place in the Provincials and the Nationals, while also earning a spot on the FILA National Team.”
Most importantly, Oscar says, he would like to give thanks to all those who have supported him.
“I’d like to say thanks to my family for always coming out to my tournaments to give me support.
“I’d like to especially thank my mom who’s been there since day one and has travelled with me to both of the Nationals.”
Old game, same feeling
After 45 years of coaching softball, John Lucas still speaks with authentic excitement when his team wins via a game-changing play.
“We had to win this game and win it by six runs [to get into the finals],” said an excited Lucas, his voice filled with pure joy after his girls defeated the Kootenays (Zone 1), 7-1.
The Vancouver-Squamish (Zone 5) girls he coaches have been training hard for five months in the gym and relentlessly practicing through mistakes made in this morning’s practices.
“I’m more than proud of them,” Lucas said with a grin from ear-to-ear.
Amongst his hard-working girls is 13-year-old Morgan Berkmann from North Vancouver.
Berkmann has been playing the sport since she was six years old and, as a result, she holds her team’s success very highly. However, this victory means much more to her.
Berkmann’s six-year-old sister has just started playing softball in a league for special needs children.
“[My sister] has cerebral palsy, selective mutism, and she is epileptic,” said Berkmann. “She’s just sweet, though.”
A role model and now a proud back-catcher to Lucas’s team, Berkmann hopes to win big for her team and more importantly, for her sister.
The squad went on to win the bronze medal in the tourney.
For more information on the BC Summer Games, including a complete list of events and results, visit bcgames.org.