Nanaimo sports fans will try to make their cheers heard all the way in London later this summer. This past week, they gave their vocal cords a warm-up by cheering Olympic and Paralympic athletes at the Liftoff to London event at Diana Krall Plaza.
Wheelchair racer Michelle Stilwell, high jumper Mike Mason, swimmer Tommy Gossland and adaptive rower Tony Theriault were the local athletes in attendance and runner Cam Levins, of Black Creek, and wheelchair basketball player Richard Peter, of Duncan, were also there.
“Thank you for being here and supporting us,” Stilwell told the crowd. “We know that when we get to London you will all be cheering us on at home. Knowing that you believe in us gives us that extra motivation and that confidence to compete on the world stage.”
In addition to saying thanks, the athletes also sought to inspire and express pride.
“[We] have a lot of short-term goals and long-term goals, but I don’t think any of them have been as long-standing as chasing the Olympics,” said Levins.
Helping to introduce the athletes was former Olympic field hockey player Sue Schellinck. She said an athlete must make sacrifices to achieve a goal such as marching in the opening ceremonies, which she got to do in Barcelona in 1992.
“What I felt among the million things that went through my head was that I couldn’t think of a single thing I’ve given up or a single thing I would have wanted, other than this path that I’ve been on, to make it to the Olympics and to have that experience,” she said.
Please look for articles on local Olympic and Paralympic athletes in future issues of the News Bulletin.