Danielle Lawrie addresses media at Wednesday’s announcement of $150,000 in provincial funding towards the cost of hosting the Olympic qualifier. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Next month’s Olympic qualifier softball tournament in Surrey got a boost from the provincial government Wednesday afternoon.

At a media event held at South Surrey’s Softball City, it was announced that the provincial ministry of tourism, arts and culture is providing the 2019 Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament – in which a dozen international women’s fastpitch teams will vie for two spots in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo – with $150,000 through the ‘Tourism Events’ and ‘Major Events’ programs.

The tournament is set to run from Aug. 25 until Sept. 1, and will include the Canadian national team, which on Sunday won its second-straight Canada Cup tournament on the same field at which the August qualifier will be held.

Surrey-Guildford MLA Garry Begg described the funding as “some great news about high-performance sport.”

“It’s an enormous honour to have Team Canada softball players take to the diamond right here in Surrey in their quest for Olympic competition,” Begg said during the news conference.

“Events like this reinforce B.C.’s reputation as a first-tier sports host. They also celebrate the achievement of women athletes, encouraging the next generation of young women to get involved and to stay in sport.”

• READ ALSO: Pitcher’s comeback highlights Canada Cup for longtime tournament chair

Event organizers expect the week-long tournament to have an economic impact of $10 million for B.C., a news release notes.

Greg Timm, chair of the Americas qualifier organizing committee, told Peace Arch News Wednesday that the cost of hosting the qualifier will be “just short of $1 million,” and that – with 39 days to go – around half of that has been raised so far.

He described the provincial injection as “one of the most important components.”

In addition to Canada, other countries set to take part in the qualifier are Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, British Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic. Despite being in the ‘Americas’ region, the United States will not compete, as they have already qualified for the Olympic Games as a result of winning last summer’s world championship. Japan, as the host nation, have also already qualified for the six-team 2020 tournament.

“The dedication shown by the provincial government, for youth and amateur sport is inspiring,” Timm said in a news release issued following Wednesday’s event.

“The committee, our volunteers and the players are incredibly grateful that the government has stepped up to the plate and provided an opportunity for Canada’s national team to host the Olympic qualifier on home soil.”

Canada is currently ranked No. 3 in women’s softball world rankings, behind only the U.S. and Japan.

Timm’s organizing committee is a not-for-profit group, and last month was still in need of local sponsors to help fund the event, which was awarded to the City of Surrey in late January.

Timm told PAN earlier this week that a number of businesses had since expressed interest in sponsorship opportunities.

Team Canada pitcher Danielle Lawrie – a former White Rock Renegades star – was also on hand at this week’s funding announcement, and expressed excitement at the prospect of playing next month’s tournament in front of hometown fans.

“There is no greater honour than playing for your country, and the qualifier is going to be pivotal in fulfilling that dream,” said Lawrie, who is one of just three national team holdovers from the team that competed at the 2008 Olympics, which was the last time the sport was part of the Games.

Lawrie said she came out of retirement to “try to make another Olympic run.”

“I think for me, it was coming up short, kinda like a salty taste left in my mouth of how that (2008) Olympic journey went and how we were so close to winning a medal, and it just slipped through our fingertips,” she told media.

“This is a team that I think we have a very, very strong chance of qualifying when we get to August.”

– with files from Tracy Holmes



editorial@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: RDN’s essential services maintained during pandemic

Regional District of Nanaimo chairman thanks residents for co-operation and understanding

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Clarity on COVID-19 locations would help

Why can’t Island Health just say the city where cases occur, asks letter writer

Nanaimo bylaw officers on the lookout for COVID-19 control infractions

Bylaw and health officers watch for health order infractions, citizens can call in complaints

Nanaimo arenacross racer wins double championship

Sebastian Sulyok takes first overall on Futures West 85cc series

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

Nanaimo will be the community hardest-hit by ferry layoffs, union says

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union looking at its legal options

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game with an Island map developed by Island family just the remedy for filling time at home

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Most Read