It was a defining day in Victoria today when three sporting ‘moments’ from 1994 were recognized and honoured by the BC Sports Hall of Fame. With one year away from the 25th Anniversary of the Victoria Commonwealth Games the event, today kickstarted events that will lead up to the celebrations in 2019.
The Victoria ‘Defining Moment’ was to recognize the 1994 Victoria Games organizing committee and how the Games became a precursor to Victoria and the Island becoming a centre of sporting excellence. Jim Reed, as Executive Vice President of the Games, accepted the award saying: “it proved how a community of this size could take on a major sporting event.” Reed had many memories from the 14,000 volunteers who “made the job doable” to the nightly Harbour-fest when 50,000 would congregate for 10 evenings. But his defining moment was when South Africa marched into Centennial Stadium for the first time at a Commonwealth Games. He recounted how George Heller, CEO of the Games, went to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela and persuaded his country to come and compete.
The other two ‘Defining Moments’ were the Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup playoff run in the spring of 1994 and the BC Lions Grey Cup win over Baltimore in the fall. Memories came flooding back for Bob Barlow, who accepted the award for the Canucks. He was captain of the Vancouver Canucks in 1968 when they were in the Western Hockey League. He went on to play 77 NHL games with the Minnesota North Stars.
Accepting the BC Lions award was Tony Collier, the defensive back on the 1994 team. The Minnesota native, when asked what his memory of that era was, he said: “it was frigging cold! We were playing in -30 temperatures.” Collier now resides in Comox.
The BC Sports Hall of Fame also announced an annual award – the Inspired Service Award – with the inaugural award going to Kelly Mann, the soon to be retired President and CEO of the BC Games. A well-respected sports educator and builder in the community, Mann co-founded KidSport Greater Victoria in 2000 and was honoured with the Rick Hansen Difference Maker Award, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal, and the BC Community Achievement Award. He was also an Ambassador for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver.