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Paddlers grab many medals at B.C. Games

Pemberton athletes all earn at least two podium finishes, Whistler's Barnett gets swimming silver

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Pemberton youth paddlers found even more success on the water this past weekend at the B.C. Summer Games, with all eight of the local athletes coming home from Nanaimo with multiple medals.

The under-16 competitors represented the Vancouver-Squamish zone in several canoe and kayak events on the Nanaimo River and Long Lake, joining forces with other paddlers from the False Creek club to bag several podium finishes between events Friday, July 18, to Sunday, July 20.

Isabel Peters was the most decorated of Pemberton's athletes at the B.C. Games, finishing with seven medals in all — two gold, two silver and three bronze. Hana Ronayne, meanwhile, earned six of her own — two of each colour.

"It feels pretty good. I didn't expect to do that well," said Ronayne, who hadn't raced in a canoe or kayak before this summer. "It was a very fun experience. I met a lot of new people and a lot of new friends. It was just one of the best things that's ever happened to me."

Peters and Ronayne won a couple of their medals together, claiming gold in the girls' C2 (two-person canoe) 500-metre race, plus a bronze in the K2 2,000 m. Ronayne captured her other gold in the K1 girls' 200-m final, while Peters earned hers in the C1 2,000m.

Among Pemberton's six male paddlers who competed in Nanaimo, Ethan Hess was the most successful, collecting two gold medals, one silver and one bronze. Jonathan Rabung also brought four medals home, securing two silver and two bronze.

D'Arcy's Colton Hockey was another local athlete who became a B.C. Games champion on the weekend, as he stepped to the top of the podium alongside Hess and fellow Sea to Sky paddler Adrian Thomson in the boys' C4 500 m race.

"Honestly, it feels amazing. It was a new experience for me and I had a lot of fun doing it," said Hockey, adding that the four-man canoe team won by "a considerable amount."

Thomson finished the weekend with two golds and a bronze, while Hockey added two other silvers to his collection. Oliver Esseltine grabbed a silver and two bronze medals, while Anthony Liakakos ended the Games with a silver and bronze medal.

The Vancouver-Squamish team included five False Creek racers on the team, and many of the multi-person crews meant Vancouver- and Pemberton-based athletes had to paddle together. Despite having little time to practice, the crews came together and got on the same page quickly.

"It was interesting," Ronayne said of bringing the team together. "We only had one or two practices, so it was hard to get used to, but we all did good considering."

Meanwhile, Whistler's Stephane Barnett also brought a medal home from the B.C. Games, capturing a silver medal in the boys' 4 x 50m freestyle relay. Barnett also had top-eight finishes in all of his individual events, earning a best result of fifth place in his 100 m backstroke race.

All of the athletes got a chance to take part in the opening and closing ceremonies. At the opening festivities, Olympic triathlon champ Simon Whitfield gave a keynote address to athletes, while MLA and Paralympic gold medallist Michelle Stilwell lit the Games flame.

More than 2,500 athletes aged 18 and under competed in 19 different sports during the Games. Visit www.bcgames.org to see full results.

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