Kelowna politicians, media, former Olympians compete at Celebrity Pentathlon

The Okanagan Athletics Club put local celebrities' track and field skills to the test during its inaugural Track and Field Expo.

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick competes in the javelin throw event at the Celebrity Pentathlon Saturday. The event was part of the Okanagan Athletics Club's inaugral Track and Field Expo.

Local politicians ditched their suits and ties, media personalities set aside the microphones and former Olympic athletes dusted off their runners for the inaugural Celebrity Pentathlon, held at Apple Bowl Arena Saturday.

Seven competitors—including Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick and 2004 Olympic athlete Malindi Elmore—tested their javelin, shot put, running, jumping and hurdling skills in front of several spectators and Okanagan Athletics Club athletes and coaches.

“They were amazing,” said Sharon Hughes-Geekie, OKAC president.

“They did really well considering they haven’t trained. If they joined our club, I think they could do amazing things.”

Elmore, a product of the former Kelowna Track and Field Club, was the favourite going into Saturday’s event, and she didn’t disappoint.

She earned the fastest times in the 200 metre run and 60 metre low hurdles events to help her claim gold in the pentathlon.

“Today was really fun. I think it’s pretty awesome that the (OKAC) put this together to try to increase the exposure of the club,” said Elmore.

Elmore, who represented Canada in the 1500 metre event at the 2004 Olympic Games, said track and field is “one of the best sports to be involved in.”

“It’s got an event for every type of athlete and person.

“It’s really cool to see so many kids coming through the sport—I’m hoping they have a lot of fun as well as a lot of opportunities offered to them through the sport.”

Cannan surprised many of his fellow competitors by finishing second in the pentathlon, ahead of former Canadian national team athlete and Canadian Olympic team physiotherapist, Greg Redman.

“I was looking for the oxygen at the end of the 200 metre run,” joked Cannan.

He said track and field is a good option for keeping a healthy lifestyle.

“There’s a concern this generation might not live as long as their parents because of obesity,” said Cannan.

“This recognizes the importance of people of all ages staying fit…it’s a fun day to support the initiative and the cause.”

The Celebrity Pentathlon was part of OKAC’s inaugural Track and Field Expo, which gave visitors the opportunity watch accomplished athletes demonstrate various track and field disciplines before getting the chance to try the activities themselves.

“We wanted to make sure people are aware of athletics,” said Hughes-Geekie.

“Everybody thinks about soccer and hockey when they’re putting their kids into sports. Some adults don’t realize that track and field is really a lifelong sport.”

Hughes-Geekie noted some of OKAC’s 131 members are in their 70s and 80s.

“We’re always looking for more people, of all ages. We train all ages of athletes here, not just kids.

“We produce some amazing athletes…some very exciting people come out of this club. But it’s also a good recreational club as well.”

For more information on the Okanagan Athletics Club, visit okac.ca.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com