To borrow a phrase from the movie Cool Runnings, the West Shore is feeling very Olympic these days.
One of the hubs for that Olympic spirit throughout this year’s Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro is the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa, where the Fan Zone is giving spectators a chance to cheer on Canada’s brightest stars.
Led by the Langford-based women’s sevens rugby side, which suffered its first loss in three outings at the Games on Sunday morning, 22-0 to England, teams and individuals who train on the West Shore and around the region have been in the spotlight for TV viewers as part of the Rio Ready events at the Langford resort.
The Fan Zone kicked things off in style on Friday, with a meet and greet featuring numerous Victoria-area Olympians and Paralympians.
Kyle Hamilton and Malcolm Howard – both members of Canada’s gold medal-winning men’s eight rowing team in 2008 in Beijing – recall how they weren’t able to participate in the opening ceremonies, with their first race being the next morning.
“Rowing starts either the Saturday or Sunday right after [the ceremony]. Opening ceremonies are essentially six hours in an oven,” Hamilton explained.
“I remember we all got together in the hotel and watched the opening ceremonies and did our own little thing … it’s a pretty unique feeling when the Olympics start,” Howard said.
Stacie Loutitt, a two-time Paralympian in sailing, also didn’t get a chance to participate in the opening ceremonies in 2008, with the sailing events taking place 200 miles away from the host city, but was there in 2012 in London.
“It was amazing … you’re with your comrades and you’re all in your gear … there’s a lot of buzz,” she said.
All the athletes agreed that feeling the support from home means a lot when the pressure builds towards the pinnacle of their sporting lives.
“In certain ways it’s easy to miss it, you’re very insulated and in your own little bubble. But when you catch glimpses of it, it’s really kind of humbling,” Hamilton said.
“After we won [in Beijing] and seeing the CBC article that had page after page of comments of people just being excited for the win … it was an amazing feeling.”
The Fan Zone will continue at Bear Mountain throughout the Olympics, concluding with the closing ceremonies on Aug. 21. Visit bearmountain.ca/event/rio-ready for more information on Olympics-related happenings.