Ontario players became the first-ever women’s lacrosse champions after defeating British Columbia at the North American #Indigenous Games. (Chris Young/Canadian Press) The North American Indigenous Games end Saturday but will leave behind a reservoir of memories for everyone touched by this event.
This 10-day festival will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark not just on the athletes who participated, but on those who helped them reach their goals.
On the field, court, pitch or pool, there’s been no shortage of athletic triumphs as competitors from 22 teams battled for medals in 14 sports.
A historic women’s lacrosse game resulted in a close victory for Ontario’s under-19 team, which beat British Columbia 8-7. The inaugural women’s match marked the first time that females have been allowed to play lacrosse in the Games’ 25-year history.
"Our team played exactly how we wanted to and we came out with the win," said an ecstatic Taylor-Rain Tabobandung, 19, who wrote a Player’s Own Voice piece for CBC Sports.
Team NWT Deanne Whenham’s gold medal in golf was one of the Games’ more remarkable moments. Consider this: in the 17-year-old’s hometown of Yellowknife, the only golf course is all sand, and golfers hit off a piece of turf they carry around in their bags.
"It’s pretty crazy, it hasn’t even clicked yet," Whenham told CBC Sports after her medal-winning round. "I surprised myself. I didn’t really have a good practice run. I scored a nine on the first hole, but after that everything started clicking." Deanne Whenham, centre, of Team NWT won gold in golf. (@TeamNWT/Twitter) Whenham’s coach Brandon Waterhouse was impressed with his golfer’s poise.
"She played great and she stayed calm. She really pulled herself together when she had to play tough shots," he said. Spirit of competition
That wasn’t the only great story from the NWT delegation. The team’s first gold medal of the Games seemed improbable and captured the spirit of this competition.
Davina McLeod’s start to her first day of paddling competition wasn’t ideal. She was well in front before she missed a turn and had to go back, eventually finishing well off the podium. She was obviously devastated but still had the tandem race later in the day. Inuvik’s Kaiden McDonald, left, and Aklavik’s Davina McLeod won gold for NWT in the U19 3,000-metre tandem canoe race. (CBC) Kaiden McDonald was slated to be her partner but had been sick all day, even pulling out of his own solo race. McDonald, knowing the heartaches McLeod had experienced earlier in the day, managed to get in the boat and the two captured gold.
"Davina had a tough race this morning and I told her I was going to lay it all out there for her and it paid off," McDonald told CBC’s Garret Hinchey. "I just kept encouraging her and when we got [to] the end it was crazy, we are actually getting a gold medal."
For many athletes at the Games, it wasn’t about medals but simply about putting themselves in a position to compete.
Take Yukon’s Teryn Kassi. The teenager from Old Crow competed here in a variety of track and field events including the javelin. But his very remote community doesn’t have any track and field equipment. So he used what was available to him for practice. For javelin, he had a snow snake, which is used in traditional Dene winter sports.
"The snow snake [a long piece of bamboo] works pretty well, I have been throwing well. I am confident in my throw," Kassi told CBC. "I got contacted by the coach to come out for tryouts and I just came out and tried out for everything, and […]
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