Despite 40 C heat this past weekend at the Special Olympics B.C. Summer Games in Kamloops, Marinka VanHage managed to keep her engine cool.
VanHage threw and leaped her way to the top of the medal podium and now awaits word on whether she and her Prince George Special Olympics teammates will be picked to represent B.C. at the national games next year in Antigonish, N.S..
Competing as part of the 25-member Prince George Special Olympics team, VanHage won the shot put and standing long jump events, contributing to the team's medal haul of 24 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze.
"It was very hot," said VanHage. "That was the first time I've won the shot put and the long jump. Everybody had good events."
Her track and field teammate, Chase Caron, also claimed double-gold, winning his 100m sprint event and the standing long jump.
The track and field events were held at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, where there's a built-in system to help athletes deal with the desert heat.
"They're used to hot weather, they have a big cannon that pushes out mists of water every once in a while that keeps the track cool," said Wilma VanHage, public relations director for Prince George Special Olympics.
"They all enjoyed it. It was hot the first day and smoky the second day and with the fire they had to take a bit of a detour coming home through Valemount."
Even the swimmers were not sheltered from the sweltering conditions. The swimming events took place in the outdoor 25m Brocklehurst pool, where Amanda Glazier, Mathew Sallenback and Sam Russell were multiple medalists. Glazier won silver in the 100m freestyle and 50m breaststroke events and bronze in the 100m breast and 50m backstroke. Sallenback captured gold in 25m freestyle. silver in 50m freestyle and bronze in 50m backstroke. Russell was a 40m backstroke silver medalist and won bronze in 100m freestyle and 50m breaststroke.
Powerlifter Diana Bramble was a bronze medalist, as was golfer Greg Eveneshen.
In rhythmic gymnastics, Darcie Muzychka won six gold medals in the Level 4 category. At Level 3, Michaela Samsonoff won five gold and one silver, Danielle Cavenaille captured three gold, one silver and two bronze, and Tegan Raines clinched one gold, two silver, one bronze.
The Prince George 10-pin bowling team of Wayne Cavenaille, Jenny Germann, Linda Renner, Mike Harris won a gold medal in the team event. in doubles, Mike Harris, Yvonne LeRuyet were gold medalists, while Greg Cole and Carol West won doubles silver.
LeRuyet also claimed silver in the women's 10-pin singles event. Harris was a gold medalist in men's singles and finished with the highest pin total overall. Greg Cole won bronze in men's singles.
"They did really well, most of them came home with medals, they did super," said Wilma VanHage.
"It's a huge process (to select the provincial team) and they will go through it all in the summer and usually about September or October they'll announce who's going (to next year's nationals games in Antigonish)."
While their competitive season is now over, the Special Olympians will continue to train through the summer in Club Fit activities and will meet Wednesday evenings for Fit Family and Friends group walks at Ginter's Field.