By Robin Short
Telegram Sports Editor—Sherbrooke, Que.
To a roaring applause of some 5,000 or so gathered at the University of Sherbrooke’s football stadium, not to mention 2,100 young athletes eager to get going for medals, Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially opened the 2013 Canada Summer Games Friday night.
About 4,200 athletes from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia will be in Sherbrooke, about an hour east of Montreal, over the next two weeks competing in 20 different sports.
Flag bearer Owen Daly of swimming led the Newfoundland contingent into the stadium followed by first-week athletes in baseball, softball, women’s soccer, wrestling, tennis, mountain biking, sailing, men’s basketball and men’s and women’s volleyball.
Week 2 sports on the agenda are athletics, rowing, canoe/kayaking, cycling, women’s basketball, golf, diving, men’s soccer, triathlon and beach volleyball.
“The first Canada Games in 1967 were in Quebec, and it was about unity through sport,” Harper said.
“After four and a half decades, sport still unites us as Canadians.”
A number of well-known athletes, among them Bruny Surin, Jennifer Heil, Sylvie Bernier and Annie Pelletier, along with singer Johnny Reid, who attended Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, helped carry the Canada Games flag in to the stadium.
While they all received a nice ovation from the crowd, the biggest applause went to Colette Roy-Laroche, the mayor of nearby Lac-Magantic, site of the explosive train derailment that killed 47 people earlier this month.
Competion gets under way Saturday with Newfoundland playing P.E.I. in baseball, Manitoba and Nova Scotia in softball, Nova Scotia and Manitoba in women’s volleyball, Saskatchewan in men’s volleyball, tennis, sailing and mountain biking.