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Penticton excited to host the 2016 B.C. Winter Games.

In February 2016, the province’s best athletes look to shine in Penticton.

The B.C. Winter Games are returning to the location that kicked off what has become a jumping-off point for elite athletes since the summer of 1978. Since then, Penticton hosted the winter games in 1990 and the summer games five years later.

Gymnasts from Fitkidz Gymnastics Club kicked off the announcement Friday with moves that caught the attention of those in attendance at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Joining them were members of Taneda Dojo and Penticton Judo Club putting on presentations to add an athletic element.

B.C. Sport Minister Bill Bennett told the crowd that the B.C. Games are hard to get.

“To be a host you have to have a very strong application,” he said. “There are many other communities that would like to host these games. Of course, the volunteers are the ones who drive the application and ensure the success.”

Retired Olympian Kristi Richards was also on hand for the announcement. She competed in the winter games in 1995 when it was hosted by Comox Valley.

“It was absolutely amazing,” said Richards. “All of you kids who are aspiring to go to B.C. Games, or to Canada Games or the Olympics, I tell you it’s something so, so magical. When I walked into that gymnasium with all the festivities and the stage and the dancing, and the singing and everything, the whole opening games celebration was so unbelievably powerful for me as a kid. That was the spark. That was the thing that lifted me to new heights. I knew that I wanted to have that feeling  again and again.”

Richards, an alumni of the Apex Freestyle Club, said that experience motivated her to eventually want to compete in the Olympics. She said the B.C. Games are a springboard for a young child.

“To be able to have this here, in Penticton, once again, it’s going to be so great for the whole community,” she continued.

During his speech, Bennett mentioned that the London Olympics had 40 B.C. athletes who once competed in the B.C. Games.

Having the B.C. Games returning to Penticton is phenomenal news, said Mayor Dan Ashton.

“Our city and region lives and breathes sports,” he said. “Our city is home to incredible, top-notch talent.”

Over 2,100 athletes, coaches, and officials will participate in approximately 18 sports, Feb. 25 to 28, 2016, according to a release issued by B.C. Games.  The Games will be organized and staged by a community board of directors and 2,000 volunteers.

Three other communities were announced as hosts of future B.C. Games in separate events Friday.  The 2016 B.C. Summer Games will be held in Abbotsford with the 2018 B.C. Winter Games returning to Kamloops and Cowichan Valley hosting the 2018 B.C. Summer Games.


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