Proving they are in the golden years of their lives in more ways than one, 135 seniors from the Big Country Senior Sports Society (BCSSS) showed age is just a number after taking home 86 medals from the Alberta 55 Plus Summer games, held from Aug. 17 to 20.
The provincial competition took place in Brooks and hosted over 800 athletes, all aged from 55 to 92 years old. The athletes represented eight zones across Alberta as they competed in 17 different sports and cultural events.
Doug Campbell, director of BCSSS, said he is pleased to announce that Zone 2 (Big Country), which encompasses Rocky View County, Mountain View County and Foothills County, alongside the communities of Banff, Canmore, Hanna, Oyen, Three Hills, and Beiseker, all placed first among the eight zones across the province.
“We had 42 gold medals, 25 silver, and 19 bronze for a total of 86 [medals], which was just fabulous because we beat the Calgary and Edmonton zones,” Campbell said.
Speaking on a local level, Campbell said he was pleased to announce that 40 athletes from Cochrane had the chance to compete alongside 15 athletes from Strathmore, another 15 from High River, nine from Airdrie, three representing Canmore, and five from Hanna.
Although Zone 2 took home several medals from the event, Campbell said the biggest aspect of the games is giving seniors the chance to get active and partake in some fun physical activity while giving them the chance to socialize, as both contribute to their physical and emotional health.
“We’re really happy with how it went, and again, the fact we won the most medals, that’s great [and we’re proud of that, but that’s just a side bonus,” Campbell said. “The big thing is participation, interaction, and the good physical, social, and mental well-being that comes out of it.”
Overall, Campbell said it is not an easy feat to host hundreds of athletes, and thanked the city of Brooks for hosting the competition.
“First of all, to have 800 to 900 athletes, and 1,100 people to feed at a banquet is a daunting task,” Campbell said. “And I would say the City of Brooks, the County of Newell, and their volunteer base did a beautiful job of hosting all of us.”
As part of Cochrane’s athletic community, Campbell said the BCSSS is a non-profit society that believes the health of seniors should be an important public policy. With other communities hosting events like the 55-Plus Summer Games, he thinks it’s time for Cochrane to step up to the plate and do the same thing.
“[SLS Centre] is a gem – many people that come here are blown away by the great facilities we have, but we need other facilities,” Campbell said. “We have 16 sports that require everything from bocce fields, track fields, to whatever.”
He added that Cochrane is home to probably the best curling ice in the Calgary area, and with the provincial playdowns taking place at SLS Centre in December, he hopes to see the community recognize the potential in hosting more large-scale sporting events in town.
“So, we would really like to see Cochrane step up,” Campbell said. “We need the Town, sponsors, hosts, and we need lots of volunteers. There’s no reason a community like ours, with now close to 35,000 people, cannot step up and be in a position to host these very valuable provincial games.”
Campbell said the BCSSS is always looking for more people to get involved however they can. With the qualifiers for the Winter Games right around the corner this fall, he hopes to see more athletes in the 55 to 65 age range to help the organization grow.
Those looking to compete are encouraged to check out Alberta55plus.ca.