As the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games got underway with the Opening Ceremony in the early hours of Friday, July 23, the province of British Columbia was front and centre in a special way.
Leading Team Canada into Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium as one of the delegation’s co-flag bearers was Nathan Hirayama, co-captain of the men’s rugby 7s team and a product of Richmond, BC. Marching out in front of fellow compatriots, alongside women’s basketball veteran Miranda Ayim, will have served as an opportunity to reflect on the journey that led Nathan up to his Olympic debut – a journey kickstarted by a first multi-sport games experiences at the Abbotsford 2004 BC Summer Games and as part of Team BC at the Regina 2005 Canada Summer Games.
Joining Hirayama in Tokyo are 50 other BC Games and Team BC alumni who, much like Canada’s all-time points scorer in men’s rugby sevens, can attribute their first taste of Olympic-esque competition to their developmental years in BC. These athletes and coaches are a living testament of the important role the BC Games and Canada Games play in the athlete development pathway to the highest levels of competition.
30 athletes and six coaches on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team are BC Games alumni, having previously competed or coached at the BC Winter or BC Summer Games. Among these are the following:
- Georgia Simmerling (West Vancouver) made history at Rio in 2016 as the first athlete to compete in a different sport at each of three Olympic Games: alpine skiing at Vancouver 2010, ski cross at Sochi 2014, and track cycling at Rio 2016. Georgia competed in alpine skiing at the 2002 BC Winter Games and is once again part of Canada’s cycling team in Tokyo.
- Evan Dunfee (Richmond) finished one place shy of the podium at Rio 2016 in the 50km race walk and will look to challenge for a medal again in Tokyo. Evan represented the Fraser River-Delta at the Abbotsford 2004 BC Summer Games.
- Nikola Girke (West Vancouver) is a veteran on the Canadian team, taking part in a fifth Olympics in sailing. Nikola got a first taste for multi-sport Games at the 1993 BC Summer Games before capturing a bronze medal at the Brandon 1997 Canada Summer Games.
29 athletes and one coach on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team have been part of Team BC at the Canada Games. The list includes the following:
- Shallon Olsen (Surrey) represented Team BC at both the 2011 and 2015 Canada Winter Games, racking up a combined 7 medals. Shallon was the youngest member of Team Canada at the Rio 2016 Olympics and will compete in gymnastics again in Tokyo.
- Jerome Blake (Burnaby) will make his Olympic debut in Tokyo as part of the men’s 4x100m relay team. Before representing Canada, Blake ran for Team BC at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg, winning gold and silver in the 200m and 100m, respectively.
- Hillary Janssens (Cloverdale) won double gold at the Sherbrooke 2013 Canada Summer Games before ever donning the maple leaf at international competitions. Hillary is one half of the women’s pair in rowing, challenging for a podium finish at these Games.
13 athletes and one coach are alumni of both the BC Games and Team BC, including the following:
- Mo Zhang (Richmond) competed at the Port Alberni 2004 BC Winter Games and served as Team Manager for Team BC at the Prince George 2015 Canada Winter Games in Table Tennis. Mo will be part of Canada’s athlete contingent in Tokyo.
- Brent Hayden (Mission) is part of Canada’s veteran group, having swam for Canada at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, and London 2012, where he won bronze in the 100m freestyle. Before winning 2 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze medal at the London 2001 Canada Summer Games, Hayden represented the Fraser Valley at the Ridge Meadows 1998 BC Summer Games.
- Emma Entzminger (Victoria) competed in soccer and softball at the Kelowna 2008 and Township of Langley 2010 BC Summer Games. Sticking to softball, Emma represented Team BC at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg and will now look to make an impact in Tokyo.
- Cam Levins (Black Creek) was a member of the Vancouver Island-Central Coast team at the 2004 BC Summer Games and Team BC at the 2009 Canada Summer Games, taking home 2 gold medals in the 1500m and 5000m. Cam will race in the men’s marathon at these Summer Games.
- Avalon Wasteneys (Campbell River) competed in cross country skiing at the Greater Vernon 2012 BC Winter Games before transitioning into rowing ahead of the 2017 Canada Summer Games. Avalon will look to replicate the triple-gold calibre Canada Games performance in the Canadian women’s coxed eight in Tokyo.
- Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team is comprised of 370 athletes.
- Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team is the largest Canadian Olympic team since Los Angeles 1984.
- 45, or 12%, of the 370 athletes are BC Games and/or Team BC alumni.
- 6 members of Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic coaching staff are BC Games and/or Team BC alumni.
See the full list of Team BC alumni here.
See the full list of BC Games alumni here.
See the full list of Tokyo 2020 Team Canada athletes here.