With Campbell River swimmer Jesse Shade leading the way as its flag-bearer, Team BC marched in to claim the aggregate point winner’s trophy at the close of the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games Sunday in Fort McMurray.
“Jesse was selected based on his performance and team leadership here in Fort McMurray,” Diane St-Denis, Team BC Chef de Mission, said before the ceremony. “We are very proud of his accomplishments and are confident Jesse will be an excellent representative for the Province of British Columbia and the entire team.”
Team BC amassed 280 podium finishes, topping the 255 the team collected in 2011. They included 134 gold, 86 silver and 61 bronze — and the six-member Campbell River delegation made a major contribution.
All six athletes won at least one gold medal, beginning with Campbell River Judo Club teammates Kelsey Painter and Anthony Henry in the opening days of competition.
Henry, 14, competing in the men’s under-50kg weight class, finished 2-1 in round-robin bouts to earn a berth in the gold-medal match against Nick Gagnon of Alberta. Henry, who also topped Gagnon 10-0 in the round-robin, posted a 5-0 win in the final.
Henry then participated in Team B.C.’s comfortable 30-17 win over Saskatchewan in the gold medal final in the team competition.
Painter, 15, competing in the women’s 70+kg class, cruised to the individual gold with a pair of 10-0 wins over her only opponent in the class, Alberta’s T’Kyia Farn. She then played a roll in Team B.C.’s 27-20 win over Alberta in the gold-medal final of the team competition.
Campbell River athletes also found success in the pool. Shade, in the Special Olympics division, and paraswimmer Ian Ralston embarked on a gold-medal rush, while Mackenzie Padington and Conner Skuse picked up where they left off at the recent Canadian Age-group Championships.
Shade, 16, swept the men’s 100 freestyle (1:00.09); the 50 backstroke (31.88); the 50 freestyle (27.66); the 100 backstroke (1:06.26); the 50 breast stroke (37.04) before being selected to carry the Team BC flag in Sunday’s closing ceremonies.
“You carry the team’s spirit on your shoulders when you carry the flag,” Shade said of his selection. “It is a pretty cool honour. I’m speechless.”
Ralston, 15, won the 100-metre para-freestyle in one minute, 5.25 seconds; the 50-metre backstroke in 1:15.09; the 50-metre freestyle in 30.17; the 100 butterfly in 1:18.41; and the 200-metre individual medley in 2:47.67.
Padington, 16, wrapped up a busy two weeks of competition by snaring the gold medal in the female 400 individual medley in 4:44.45 and helping B.C. to golds in the 800 freestyle relay, in 8:04.11; the 400 freestyle relay, in 3:43.80; and the 200 freestyle relay, in 1:42.91.
She added a silver medals in the 400 freestyle, in 4:13.99, and the 200 individual medley, in 2:17.43.
Padington was coming off of appearances in both the Canadian age-group swimming championships and the Canadian National Championship meet the previous two weekends.
Skuse, 16, swam to gold with the B.C. boys 800 freestyle relay team, in 7:43.88. Individually, he finished just off the podium with a fourth-place showing in the 200 individual medley, in 2:08.36, and had the fifth-fastest time in the 5-kilometre open water swim, at 58:55.31.
In addition, Cindy Simpson served as manager of the Team BC Badminton team, which won gold in the mixed team competition.
Also representing the community was Darryl Rudolph, coach of the Campbell River Killer Whales, who coached the paraswimmers.
In the Killer Whales swim club, Rudolph also works with Shade, who impressed the rest of the B.C. coaching staff while posting times rivaling those of “able-bodied” swimmers.
“Jesse is a very strong swimmer and a natural leader in and out of the pool,” says Shade’s coach Brianna Kowalski. “He has the qualities in an athlete I can’t teach, dedication and commitment…and he has a great attitude.”
Campbell River’s Jesse Shade was selected as Team BC’s flag-bearer for the Western Canada Games closing ceremonies. — Image credt: Violet Shade