A group of Okanagan volunteers, athletes and businesses have been honoured for their outstanding achievements.
Last year was a challenge for athletic organizations. With competitions cancelled and team practices put on hold, many had to exercise their mental strength as they focused on staying healthy, at home.
Normally at this time of year, PacificSport Okanagan, in partnership with the City of Kelowna, would be hosting an awards ceremony at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, a grand celebration of athletics in Kelowna and beyond. However this year as the world was flipped on its head, they were forced to adapt. Although not in-person, they are continuing to celebrate, and after weeks of nominations, the results are in.
Starting March 1, they have been announcing the winners of the athlete award, volunteer/sport leader award, and sport organization award. Those chosen showed outstanding achievements in 2020, despite the odds.
Each was nominated by the public and decided on by a team of adjudicators from both PacificSport and the City of Kelowna.
Malindi Elmore (Kelowna), Vasek Pospisil (Vernon), Jacob Rubuliak (Kelowna), Justin Fotherby (Penticton) and Elena Gaskell (Vernon) have been named recipients of the athletic excellence award, and in turn, named Community Sport Heroes.
Elmore started 2020 with a bang, breaking the Canadian women’s marathon record. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just a step away, they were cancelled, stopping her in her tracks. However, she adapted, taking on a coaching position with the UBC Okanagan cross-country team.
“The challenges that COVID brought about resulted in some setbacks. Malindi had to overcome those challenges and now as a coach (and) as an athlete she leads not only by example but also is just a phenomenal motivator for the children and young adults she coaches,” said her husband, Graham Hood.
Rubuliak, a well-decorated Kelowna cyclist also didn’t let 2020 slow him down.
Competitions were put on hold, halting his win-streak. In recent years he snagged three national championship titles.
However, the pandemic allowed him to compete in a new way — setting the Canadian record for an event known as “Everesting”, where athletes repeat a climb as many times necessary to “climb” the height of Mount Everest, 8,848 metres.
In addition to his work ethic during competitions, Rubuliak is known for his sportsmanship, and being a role model for the next generation of cyclists.
Coaches from Kelowna were also honoured.
Steve Manual (volleyball) Rodney Hobson (karate), Michele Drescher (ringette), Christine Hank (speed skating) and Sean McHugh (kickboxing) have received coaching excellence awards.
Kelowna BMX Club, Kelowna Badminton Club, Kelowna Judo Club, Kelowna Curling Club and Special Olympics BC – Kelowna, have been named sport leaders.
Each day, from March 1 to March 5, PacificSport Okanagan has been releasing video features on each member honoured. To read each in full, click here.
For more info visit Pacificsportokanagan.com.
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