Three Comox Valley athletes were among the 12,000 competitors at the Americas Masters Games, and part of the gold medal winning 55+ men’s basketball team.
The Games were played Aug. 26 to Sept. 4 in Vancouver, with UBC hosting the basketball events.
The Canada 1 team, organized by Courtenay’s Larry Street, survived five games in four days to win their pool. They defeated ominous opposition from Spokane,Wash. and other intimidatingly named teams such as ‘Legends and Liars’, and ‘The Silver Grizzlies’. Grant Ashlee, Hugh MacKinnon and Street joined teammates from Vancouver, Calgary and a Canadian ex-pat doctor living and practising in Berlin to form the Canada 1 team.
“At our advanced age we all agreed the most vital team member was having Dr. John from Berlin on the team,” commented MacKinnon, who suffered a wrist injury at the event.
“I was not only the oldest but the shortest on the team so in the land of lots of physical contact with b-ball giants, I was extremely pleased we had a doctor on our team.”
In the semifinals, Canada 1 played the Silver Grizzlies, a team made of ex-UBC basketball players, and came away with a 45-29 win (with games played with 20-minute running time halves).
In the gold medal final the opposition was a younger team from the Fraser Valley. McKinnon said Canada 1 demonstrated old age wisdom, superior shooting skills and a secret stifling defence that included the use of bad breath as a weapon to come away with a decisive 74-41 win and the gold medal.
“Grant played and shot well in the tournament, particularly against the Americans, and Larry led with his inside, outside game and steadying unselfish influence,” MacKinnon noted. “My play was described by an observer as the ‘Tasmanian Devil in basketball shorts,’” he quipped.
“The basketball component to the Games was very well organized and it was nice to see so many Comox Valley Masters athletes competing in all sports.
“It was inspiring to observe senior athletes up to the age of 100 years old competing. Next stop, The World Masters in Auckland, New Zealand in 2017!”
Comox Valley track and field athletes returned from the Games with a large haul of medals. Graham Morfitt collected eight medals in various throwing events while Keith Wakelin, Wayne Crowe and Danny Keyes all had podium performances in their respective running events.
Complete results are at www.americasmastersgames2016.com