The BC Games returns to Kamloops, hosts of the inaugural BC Winter Games in 1979. (Black Press file)

Province marks 40th anniversary of BC Games

The games, which began in 1978, are returning to Kamloops for a third time

The B.C. government announced Thursday that 2018 is the year of the BC Games, marking the sporting event’s 40th anniversary.

“The Games’ athletes, coaches and volunteers are role models, not only for excellence, but for the value of contributing to communities and our province,” said Tourism Minister Lisa Beare in a news release.

The first BC Games, a summer Games, took place in Penticton in 1978, and over the past four decades, has been held in 38 communities, with more than 350,000 participants and volunteers.

This year’s Winter Games are set for Feb. 22 to 25 in Kamloops. (Black Press is a sponsor of the event.) It’s the city’s third time hosting, since the inaugural Winter Games there in 1979.

Several BC Games competitors have gone on to represent Canada in the Olympics and on other national and international stages.

Fourteen alumni, such as Kamloops speed skater Josie Morrison, Kelowna skier Kelsey Serwa, and Summerland bobsledder Justin Kripps, will represent Team Canada in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games this month.

“What athletes learn are lifelong skills,” said Niki Remesz, president of the 2018 Kamloops event. “Even if they do not continue to compete for the sport in the Winter Games, they (will) continue to develop regardless.”

“It’s nice to see a full circle of how the community and sport capacity has advanced,” Remesz added. “Being the tournament capital of Canada, (Kamloops) continues to add to its infrastructure and community engagement.”

The BC Winter Games is projected to bring in roughly $1.6 million to benefit the Kamloops economy.

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