Athletes shine for Thompson-Okanagan zone

Payton Nackoney, Britney Young and Alyssa Kroeker talk about their B.C. Summer Games experience

BC Games

BC Games

Swimming since she was five years old, Payton Nackoney’s biggest accomplishment happened while competing in the B.C. Summer Games July 19 to 22.

While in Surrey, Nackoney, 14, won gold medals in the 50-metre freestyle and 100-m fly and took bronze in the medley relay.

“It was pretty exciting. I thought I had a chance to (medal) because I was ranked pretty high going into the meets,” said Nackoney of Summerland, who is a member of the KISU swim club.

While Nackoney was excited about her results, she also felt nervous going into the final because of the excitement and talent she was up against.

“I was racing against some pretty fast people,” said Nackoney, who gained confidence from her success. “The times were pretty close.”

Nackoney loved the experience because she met athletes from the various sports.

On the soccer pitch, the Thompson-Okanagan girls soccer team nearly had a scare against the Fraser River-Delta for the bronze medal. Fraser River-Delta thought they scored the equalizer while it was 4-3 for Thompson-Okanagan.

“I was falling apart,” said Oliver’s Anya Nazaroff. “I didn’t know it was offside until I saw my coach cheering.”

After the decision was made and time ran out, Nazaroff, along with Penticton’s Britney Young and Cawston’s Savanna Yamamoto, jumped on each other with their teammates in a circle celebrating their 4-3 win.

Young is so proud of their win on Sunday that she was still wearing her bronze medal on Monday.

“I love it, it’s really heavy,” the 12-year-old said. “It’s going to be in my room, I have a box I put them in. I’m going to wear it for a while.”

Young said the experience of the Summer Games was good because of the talent level they faced.

“I found that we were pretty equal to most of the teams,” said Young, who was used as a defender, normally plays striker and midfield with the under-12 Pinnacles development team.

“It was actually really fun,” she said. “Different kind of play. More pressure than being up as striker.”

Alyssa Kroeker wrestled with the idea of not competing in the B.C. Summer Games. Her grandfather Victor Kohlman died when the games were starting. He was among the few supporters she had to compete in the sport from her mother’s family. Encouraged by those close to her, she was told not to let the loss stop her from doing what she has always wanted to do. Kroeker decided to take to the wrestling mat in the 47-kilogram category.

“I really wanted to go and do it for him and perform well,” said Kroeker. “I didn’t do as well because I was thinking of him the whole time.”

Against two other girls in her weight group, Kroeker earned bronze.

“I definitely did not perform my best. My first match was horrendous,” said Kroeker, who lost to the four-time provincial champion in her opening match. “My second match I wrestled very well.”

While the summer games were a mental challenge, Kroeker is eager to go again. However, that will depend on what kind of success she has leading up to 2014.

“If I end up placing first at nationals next year then I won’t be able to go again,” she said. “If I perform well in the next couple of years then I won’t be able to go to the B.C. games.”

B.C. games president and chief executive officer Kelly Mann said the event in Surrey saw a number of records fall as B.C.’s best came together.

“That shows that B.C.’s investment in sport is paying off,” said Mann. “We are seeing an escalation in skills in several sports, and many of the young people who competed here are well on their way to becoming provincial level athletes.

“I firmly believe that many of the stars produced by these Summer Games in Surrey will one day compete for our country,” added Mann.

-Written with files from Cheyenne Bergenhenegouwen.

Check Friday’s issue of the Penticton Western News for final coverage.