55-plus BC Games about friendship for athletes

Athltes from Okanagan-Similkameen zone ready for 55-plus B.C. Games

Heading into his sixth 55-plus B.C. Games in Vancouver Aug. 25-29, Richard Redwood isn’t changing his approach.

He likes to have fun and socialize with other athletes.

“That way you are more relaxed. You are not so uptight, got to compete,” said Redwood, one of 64 athletes representing Zone 5, Okanagan-Similkameen. “If you go out just to have a good time and be social and relax you will probably do better.”

Redwood, a gold medal winner in bowling in Campbell River in 2010, will be bowling, but in the past he has also gone to the Games as a golfer. He looks forward to meeting people and he doesn’t go in thinking he has to win.

“I love this,” he said. “Some people are really competitive. They are really into it. Other people go out just to have a good time.”

Kaleden’s Tony Blashko will be curling with his wife Lil and their teammates Glen and Tammy Brennan of Summerland. They are looking to three-peat as champs and are excited about going to the games.

“It’s a fun sport,” he said

Blashko acknowledged there is some pressure to win, but that’s only when he stops to think about it.

“I gotta gear up to not think about it,” said Blashko. “Go out there just to win the game.”

He knows they will be tested as there are strong teams. One year Blashko was pushed by wheelchair curler Darryl Neighbour, who won gold at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympic Games.

What Blashko enjoys about the games is the same as Redwood — meeting people.

“Curling to me has always been … people. It’s a friendly sport,” said Blashko, who has played for 50 years.

The 64 athletes will represent eight regions of the zone in 13 events.

“The 55-plus community is very active year-round in the South Okanagan and Similkameen. While sports and activities such as bridge, slo-pitch, tennis and ice hockey remain popular, sports such as mountain biking, karate, pickleball and squash are rapidly climbing in numbers,” said Lisa Navin, event/sport development – Tourism Penticton in a press release.

The Games brings together approximately 3,800 participants from across the province. The City of Penticton recently submitted bids to host either the 2018 or 2019 Games. “With the 55-plus BC Games landing in Lower Mainland communities four out of five times from 2012 to 2016, we believe that the Okanagan will likely see the Games at least once from 2017 to 2019,” said Navin.