The 2017 Central Okanagan Hall of Fame class includes (clockwise from top left) Malindi Elmore, Conrad Leinemann, Chris Taneda and Garett Hickling. -Image credit: Contributed

Hall of Fame grows richer with new inductees

Malindi Elmore and Conrad Leinemann among additions to Central Okangan Sports Hall of Fame

For as long as Malindi Elmore can remember, her passion has been running.

“I just always felt really free when I was running, like it was just what I was meant to do,” Elmore said. “I always said I didn’t choose running, it chose me.”

So it should come as no surprise that Elmore went on to become one the most accomplished track athletes ever to come out of Kelowna.

The 37-year-old Elmore was among the five new inductees into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame introduced Tuesday morning at the Okanagan Heritage Museum.

Elmore realized a childhood dream in 2004 when she competed in the 1,500 metres at the 2004 Olympic Games. She was also a four-time Canadian champion in the 1,500, the 2012 Olympic trials champion, and won a bronze medal at the 2003 World University Games.

“It is an honour to be recognized and follow these amazing people from the past and the people to come,” Elmore said of her upcoming induction. “To be selected among many great people in the community, it’s very touching.”

The other 2017 COSHF inductees are:

Conrad Leinemann—athlete

An accomplished athlete in high school in Kelowna, Leinemann took his skills to another level in 1995 when he won the Canadian beach volleyball championship. Leinemann won gold at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg in 1999, and placed ninth in beach volleyball at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Garett Hickling—athlete

Rendered a paraplegic after a fall when he was 16, Hickling went on to become one of Canada’s most celebrated wheelchair athletes of all time.

Hickling won four Paralympic Games medals and five world championship medals—including one gold—during his career in wheelchair rugby.

Hickling, who now lives in London, Ont., was Canada’s flag bearer at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

Garett’s dad, John Hickling, expressed his son’s gratitude for the honour.

Chris Taneda—builder

Synonymous with karate in the Central Okanagan, Taneda is six-time Canadian karate champion and a four-time world champion. He was named Karate BC’s coach of the year in 2005 and was an Olympic torch bearer for Canada in 2010. Taneda also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012.

“I’m so grateful,” Taneda said of his inclusion into the hall. “When I see some of the other inductees here, it’s nice to see (karate) being recognized alongside all the other sports.”

Kelowna Buckaroos hockey—pioneer

The Buckaroos were instrumental in establishing junior A hockey in Kelowna. After joining the Okanagan junior league in 1961 , the Bucs were one of four original teams in the B.C. Junior Hockey League in 1967. The Buckaroos, who won the BJCHL title in 1974, paved the way for the success of both the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets and Kelowna Minor Hockey.

Western Canada Basketball Tournament—Bennett Award

With a rich 44-year history behind it, the Western Canada Basketball Tournament this year earns special recognition from the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame.

The annual tourney at Kelowna Secondary School has grown into one of the country’s most prestigious high school basketball events and continues to attract elite teams every February.

The 2017 COSHF induction ceremony will be held Nov. 16 at the Coast Capri Hotel.