UPDATED: B.C. Seniors Games success

Langley was a flurry of activity as athletes entering, or in, their golden years vied for gold at the B.C. Seniors Games.

Most of the sporting events that were part of the games, which ran Sept. 9-13 at venues across the community, got underway on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

The 27th annual games drew close to 4,000 competitors ages 55 and older. The male and female athletes competed in 25 sports ranging from cribbage to ice hockey.

Roughly 1,200 volunteers offered helping hands over the five days of competition and social activities.

Last Wednesday marked the first day of track and field competition at McLeod Athletic Park, and Langley Township Councillor Steve Ferguson put his running skills to the test.

“I’m not going to set any world records,” Ferguson said Sept. 3, prior to the games starting. “After all, I was on council when most of these facilities were built and this is the first time that I am able to participate as an accredited athlete.”

Ferguson, 60, finished last in his 200-metre race but had fun in the process, chuckling as he rambled down the home stretch.

His wife Denise and 17-year-old daughter Lydia sat in the MAP grandstands, cheering Ferguson on as he made his way towards the finish line.

“I made it!” Ferguson exclaimed to fellow councillor Bev Dornan, who congratulated him after he crossed the finish line. “I can run faster than that, it’s just that I’ve had some leg problems. But hey, I finished the race. I actually signed up for the 100 [metre race] and they put me in the 200, as well, and I’m not really a 200 [metre runner]. But I don’t think it would make much difference. Some of those guys are pretty fast.”

Ferguson signed up to compete as soon as the games were announced.

“They didn’t have too many people, as you can see, so they basically let me run,” Ferguson said.

All told, Ferguson has served as a Township councillor for 21 years and has seen many facilities, that were utilized for the games, built in the community.

“You get involved and for the first time, you get a chance to participate,” he said. “I thought, ‘Hey, the opportunity’s there.’”

Ferguson was not surprised in the least at the level of competition. He used to play rugby competitively and had, he said, “a bit of speed there,” but wasn’t able to demonstrate that last Wednesday.

“I knew I’d have a problem but it’s all about participating, having fun, and generating interest in the community,” he said.

A veteran track athlete at MAP, 85-year-old Isaac Thiessen participated in his 20th provincial seniors games.

When he was 64, Thiessen played a year of softball before switching to the track the following year.

Thiessen missed the 2013 event in Kamloops, but up to then, had competed in 19 consecutive games.

“I feel good, I just don’t have the same speed anymore,” Thiessen said.

As the games approached, Thiessen, who has lived in Langley for the past 15 years, trained five days a week in running and throwing events.

The games are all about keeping seniors active, Thiessen said, and for the camaraderie.

In the men’s 85-89 age division, Thiessen won gold medals in the 100m and 200m races, and long jump, and earned a bronze medal in hammer throw. He also finished fourth in javelin to go along with sixth place results in the discus and shot put.

“You meet people from all across the province and you meet some of the same people every year, but you get some new ones come in, there were a couple of new ones this year,” he said.

Looking forward, Thiessen isn’t sure how many more games he’ll be participating in.

“Sometimes I wonder,” he said. “I’m thinking another couple of years, anyway, because next year the [55-plus] games are in North Van, and the ones after that is in Coquitlam.  Right now, I’m thinking, I’ll do those.”

The games wrapped up Saturday afternoon with closing ceremonies at the MAP sports box.

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