Canada Games now one year away
By Jim Day
Time will be THE factor in who wins gold, silver and bronze in many of the events at the 2009 Canada Games in Prince Edward Island.
Fractions of a second could make the difference between capturing a medal or simply standing on the sidelines watching fellow competitors climb up on the podium.
Today, though, the important period of time is not a matter of seconds, minutes, hours or even days. It’s one year.
Exactly 12 months from today, the opening ceremonies will kick off the Summer Games on the Island, running from Aug. 15-29, 2009.
Today’s milestone, called the one-year-out point, was heralded a day early Thursday by some of the key players in the multi-sport event that will draw about 4,400 athletes from across the country to compete in P.E.I.
The next 365 days are sure to zip past with a blur similar to the winning sprinter in the 100-metre dash crossing the finish line next summer on the track currently being constructed on the grounds of UPEI.
That, at least, is what Barb Dunphy-Gotell is predicting, based on her past experience serving as assistant general manager for the Canada Winter Games held here in 1991.
“The last year really went by fast,’’ said Dunphy-Gotell, who is vice- president of the media, community relations and communications division for the 2009 Canada Games.
“I mean it was an extremely busy year.’’
Preparations were fast and furious as the months ticked off the calendar.
Dunphy-Gotell recalls the chef de missions from each of the provinces coming to P.E.I. to make sure all of the preparations were up to snuff.
“They know really the issues they are concerned about for their athletes,’’ she said.
“So it was somewhat of a test to make sure we were in ready position. But at the same time those conferences were really a great way of knowing that we were ready for the Games.’’
Naturally, as the Games get closer, more and more volunteers are brought on board. Close to 6,000 people are expected to volunteer their time and talent to help pull of this major event.
“You started to have to let it go and have faith and trust in the volunteers that were executing the job,’’ Dunphy-Gotell said of passing the torch as the 1991 Games approached.
“And I know we had sessions — like day sessions — to talk to the volunteers to make sure that they were looking after everything.’’
Host society president Joseph Spriet said Thursday he was pleased to announce that the 2009 Canada Games will be on budget, coming in at a cool $33 million, and that planning is on schedule.
He urged Islanders to count along as momentum builds and the big event draws nearer and nearer. The official website —www.2009canadagames.ca — now has an active clock ticking away the time.
The official song for the Summer Games was also unveiled Thursday.
David Rashed, who produced the upbeat number, said the song is meant to capture the excitement and energy of the Games.
“It’s going to be exciting times,’’ he said.
“People competing at their finest.’’
Rashed said the songwriter wants to remain anonymous, opting to stay in the background and let the number get all the attention. He added that the song is aimed at a wide spectrum of people.
“The invitation to come play at our Games is for the athletes, for the volunteers, for the parents, for the friends,’’ he said.
“It’s for everybody.’’
Dunphy-Gotell is hopeful Canada Games days can be held in Island schools to help inspire students to be “Canada Games athletes in the future.
“And I think that is one of the major legacies from the ‘09 Canada Games is the facilities that will be left behind for training,’’ she said.
Carolyn Bertram, minister responsible for sport, echoed the sentiment that hosting the Games provides a tremendous opportunity for the promotion and development of sport in P.E.I.
“We are very excited that, in just one short year, we will be hosting the Canada Summer Games in Prince Edward Island for the first time ever,’’ she said.
“We remain committed to ensuring that the benefits associated with hosting the games are enjoyed throughout the province.’’