Feeling the LOVE
They’re not all from Kamloops, but they might as well be when the Summer Olympic Games get underway in London later this month.
Of the five Kamloops-based athletes — shot putters Dylan Armstrong and Justin Rodhe, hammer throwers Sultana Frizell and Kibwe Johnson and mountain biker Catharine Pendrel — heading to the Games, only Armstrong grew up in the River City.
But, all of them were given the same warm sendoff by the Kamloops public and local dignitaries at the Lift Off to London on Monday, July 2, at the Tournament Capital Centre.
“When I first arrived here, I didn’t know what it was going to be like,” said Frizell, a Perth, Ont., product who moved to Kamloops in the fall of 2007.
“I didn’t know if I’d like it or not . . . everyone’s welcomed me with open arms.
“Now, I’m a Kamloopsian.”
Frizell came to train with National Throws Centre coach Anatoliy Bondarchuk, as did Johnson and Rodhe, both Americans by birth.
“B.C. and Kamloops, especially, are very supportive of their athletes and you really feel that,” said Johnson, whose wife has family in the Tournament Capital.
“It’s probably more of a community feeling than any place I’ve ever lived.”
Johnson, who moved to the River City in 2008, will compete in Stars and Stripes in London, but Rodhe, born in Ohio, became a Canadian citizen last November.
He was cleared in May by the International Association of Athletics Federations to compete for the Great White North at the Olympics.
The hulking shot putter was not in the least bit surprised at the show of support on Monday.
“This feels the same as the last four years,” Rodhe said.
“Ever since I moved here, people have really taken me in.”
“It’s nice to be able to put the flag on and go to the Olympics with Canada.”
Pendrel moved to Kamloops in 2006.
She was quickly adopted by the city — that’s what happens when you’re a world-champion mountain biker — and was happy to see similar support for all of the athletes at Lift Off.
“Kamoops is such an incredible sporting community and to know that there’s that many people that care and are excited for you, it really helps carry your momenutm toward the event,” she said.
Bruce Davidson is a Kamloops-based physician who will serve on Canada’s core medical team at the Olympics.
Dr. Davidson caught River City fever upon arrival.
“I moved to Kamloops four years ago,” said Davidson, who provides urgent care in town and works with the Sage Sports Institute.
“As soon as we came to Kamloops, we fell in love with it.”
Kamloopsian Steve Seibel was named a basketball official for the Games.
There’s no doubt about it — all eyes will be on Armstrong in London.
The Westsyde secondary graduated thanked the city not only for supporting him, but also his fellow Olympians.
“It’s an awesome feeling to have the backing of the community here, but that’s no surprise,” he said.
“Without their support, we wouldn’t be in this position today.”