Yesterday morning I visited the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, and although the building itself is remarkable, on this morning it was filled with one of the most interesting and inspiring groups of people imaginable. Olympic and Paralympic athletes, coaches, officials, support staff and volunteers were recognized in an official ceremony in the Rotunda and before the event got underway, I was able to chat with a few individuals who represented Canada in Rio, Brazil.
From Saskatoon, Logan Campbell competed in keelboat sailing at the 2012 Paralympics in London making the 2016 Paralympics in Rio his second appearance at this elite level. Unsurprisingly, with no shortage of wind or water, Logan began sailing in Saskatchewan and would practice on Blackstrap and Last Mountain lakes. Leading up to Rio, he and his two teammates practiced in Halifax. During our visit, Logan reflected on the transition from sailing in lakes to oceans and how ocean currents can be a factor while racing. The keelboat sailing three-person (sonar) competition is no small feat, it took place over six days with 11 different races. While racing in Rio, Logan and his teammates navigated a course with a number of nearby rivers - with river outflows varying from day to day they add a bit of a challenge. Well they were clearly up for any challenge, Logan and his teammates brought home the bronze medal.
From Hanley, Taryn Suttie finished second in shot put during the 2016 Canadian Championships and made her first Olympic appearance at Rio 2016. If you’re like me and are curious about how far Taryn can throw a 7.25 kilogram shot put - her personal best is an astounding 17.88 metres! At yesterday’s event, Taryn spoke to the audience about her experience in sport in Saskatchewan and making it to the Olympic stage, she said "I hope to inspire the youth of Saskatchewan to stay in sport and follow their dreams." Taryn also joked that all of the love and support she received by citizens of the province almost made her feel like a Saskatchewan Roughrider. In true Saskatchewan fashion, the town of Hanley now proudly displays Taryn’s name beneath it’s welcome sign. I personally checked out the sign on my drive home to Saskatoon, but Taryn’s photo is much better.
From Carlyle, 12-year-old Carter Morrison was one of only five Canadians chosen by Ronald McDonald House Charities to be a “tree-bearer” for the Parade of Nations. During the opening ceremonies he helped to lead in Team Canada and walked alongside the Canadian flag-bearer carrying a tree sapling which represented the environmentally-friendly theme of the ceremonies. Carter resumed his role and led the Saskatchewan contingent into the event at the Saskatchewan Legislature. After having the opportunity to speak with Carter, it was very clear why he was selected - his easy-going nature and positive, uplifting outlook on life is contagious.
Having the opportunity to meet so many passionate Saskatchewan athletes was amazing and hearing their individual stories was inspirational. And I wasn’t alone in having the chance to meet these role models, a number of visiting school children had the to chance to meet the athletes and get their autographs.