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Sport halls of fame delegates gather at Summit to discuss curatorial trends and honour the past

Canada is in a halcyon era for sports, says Tim Ryan
Tim Ryan speaks at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame Summit. Kevin Light, B.C. Sports Hall of Fame

Tim Ryan built his legendary broadcasting career with CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN in the U.S. but the Victoria resident is a proud Canadian. Delivering the keynote address to delegates gathered from around the province for the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame Summit, he said Canada is in a halcyon era for sports.

Ryan noted the Canadian men’s basketball team winning bronze at the 2023 FIBA World Cup and qualifying for the Olympics next year in Paris for the first time since Steve Nash of Victoria captained Canada to the 2000 Sydney Games, and that Canada is the defending Davis Cup champion in tennis and into the quarter-finals this year. He could also have noted that the current two greatest all-round athletes in the world are Canadian, with Pierce LePage and Damian Warner winning gold and silver in the decathlon last month at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

But with delegates gathered from the 40 regional, municipal or sport-specific sports halls of fame in B.C. — the latter such as the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton and Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in New Westminster — this weekend was as much about the past as the present. International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Ryan enthralled the delegates with engaging tales of covering or working alongside everybody from Muhammad Ali and Terry Bradshaw to Ted Lindsay and John Newcombe in covering 10 Olympics, NHL and NFL games and numerous U.S. Opens and Wimbledons in tennis and championship boxing matches.

Ryan mentioned that he covered rowing for NBC at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and that the Elk Lake-based Canadian men’s eight won the gold medal.

Shooting the summit happenings this weekend for the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame is local photographer Kevin Light, a gold medallist who rowed at Beijing in the 2008 Olympic-champion Canadian eights crew. Ryan and Light embraced in a full circle moment.

Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sports, also addressed the delegates. A ski racer out of Mount Washington, she recalled thinking it was the worst moment of her life when she broke her arm one week before the 1985 B.C. Winter Games and was unable to compete.

“It’s still the worst moment of my life,” she quipped.

It was a light-hearted remark but with it overtones of all the moments of both regret and elation many adults still carry from their youth sports days.

Popham also related her full-circle moment when she finally got to her first B.C. Winter Games — this year in Vernon as Sports Minister: “I felt like I was 16 years old.”

She said those athletes made her proud of what awaits in the future and that the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame makes her feel proud of the province’s past.

The big announcement of the weekend was that the 1925 Victoria Cougars’ Stanley Cup championship, Steve Nash’s back-to-back NBA MVP awards, rower Silken Laumann’s heralded comeback Olympic bronze medal from the brink at Barcelona 1992, triathlete Simon Whitfield’s dramatic Olympic gold medal at Sydney 2000 and Michelle Stilwell’s gold medals over three consecutive Paralympics will be the Island-tinged entries joining the Defining Moments Gallery in the B.C. Sports Hall at B.C. Place Stadium.

The gallery honours milestone moments rather than individual or team inductees. Whitfield (Class of 2002), Laumann (2004), Nash (2016), Stilwell (2017) and the 1925 Cougars (1977) have already been inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

The five new Defining Moments will join the previous moments selected for display. They include the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics, 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games, the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope in 1980, the Rick Hansen Man in Motion in 1987, skier Nancy Greene’s Olympic gold medal at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics, the Vancouver Canucks runs to the Stanley Cup final in 1994, 1982 and 2011, the B.C. Lions’ last-second 1994 Grey Cup victory and the B.C.-laden Canadian golf team win at the Alfred Dunhill Cup in 1994. Four to five Defining Moments will be selected each year.

The Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame was co-host of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame Summit, held at the Coast Harbour Hotel and Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Last year’s summit was hosted by the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame and held in Kelowna. Next year’s will be hosted by the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame.

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