‘Awesome’ sportsmanship

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo The teams competing at the NWT Track and Field Championships were led into the opening ceremonies on June 1 by a delegation from the GNWT, including, left to right: Jackson Lafferty, Speaker of the legislative assembly; Premier Bob McLeod; Education Minister Alfred Moses, and, back, right, Hay River North MLA Rocky (RJ) Simpson.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
The teams competing at the NWT Track and Field Championships were led into the opening ceremonies on June 1 by a delegation from the GNWT, including, left to right: Jackson Lafferty, Speaker of the legislative assembly; Premier Bob McLeod; Education Minister Alfred Moses, and, back, right, Hay River North MLA Rocky (RJ) Simpson.

There were many examples of good sportsmanship during play at the NWT Track and Field Championships held in Hay River from June 1 to 3.

However, perhaps the most remarkable examples of good sportsmanship occurred after the events had ended.

On the afternoon of June 3, competitors gathered in Diamond Jenness Secondary School for the closing ceremonies and to see who won the year’s awards, including gold, silver and bronze medals for the top male and female athletes in various age categories.

However, partway through the presentations it became apparent that something had gone wrong with the system of tallying points for performances in various sports, and some young people were receiving awards that they might not have actually earned.

“The poor kids,” said Tim Borchuk, one of two co-ordinators of the championships, after the closing ceremonies had ended. “I feel bad because some of them are up there and they know they didn’t win and they received a medal, and what’s the glory in that? When you get something and you know you didn’t win it.”

However, the young athletes knew what to do if they felt they didn’t deserve the medal they received.

“They were coming up to be afterward and saying, ‘Hey, I didn’t win this,'” said Borchuk. “And they’re handing back the medals. The sportsmanship is amazing. It’s track and field. They’re that awesome.”

The actual results of events were not affected by the glitch.

Speaking on June 3, Borchuk said it had not been determined what caused the problem.

“But it looked like for some reason the system didn’t tally one section of points,” he said. “All the points that were printed out in the report were incorrect.”

As a result, some of the main team awards were also not presented, and the individual awards will be recalculated.

“We’re going to have to look at all the individual awards as far as the age groups go,” said Borchuk. “They may not be correct.”

The organizer said such problems sometimes happen.

“So we’ll get back on the computer,” he said. “We’ll punch it back in there and redo the list.”

Once a correct list is determined, medals will be sent out to the winners.

Aside from the glitch in presenting the awards, Borchuk said the championships went well overall.

“I say this every year but I think it went a little smoother,” he said. “The weather was beautiful. I think it went really well.”

In all, 1,075 competitors were registered from 19 communities.

One of those competitors was Jessica Gill, a Grade 11 student at Diamond Jenness Secondary School.

“It went a lot smoother than most of the years that I’ve seen them do,” said Gill. “I’ve done 10 years of this,” she said.

This year, she competed in the 100 metre, javelin, discuss and shot put.

Gill said the events seemed to be more on time this year, and some even started ahead of schedule.

Aside from the athletic teams, a political team attended the opening ceremonies of the championships on June 1.

The 10-member legislative assembly delegation was led by Premier Bob McLeod, and also included Speaker Jackson Lafferty, several ministers and a number of MLAs.

That included Hay River North MLA Rocky (RJ) Simpson and Hay River South MLA Wally Schumann, who is also minister of Transportation and minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

“I think it’s fantastic, especially for the students and the young athletes to see so many athletes come from all over the Northwest Territories, especially the very small schools that have obviously travelled a long ways,” said McLeod.

The fact that the championships have been going on for 26 years is amazing, said the premier, “And I expect it will continue for a long time.”

Along with Hay River, this year the athletes came from Yellowknife, Fort Simpson, Nahanni Butte, Behchoko, Wrigley, the Hay River Reserve, Fort McPherson, Fort Providence, Fort Resolution, Inuvik, Fort Liard, Fort Smith, Kakisa, Ndilo, Lutsel K’e, Norman Wells and Aklavik.

The championships featured competitions in the triple jump, long jump, high jump, standing long jump, ball throw, javelin, shot put, discus and a wide array of running races.

–Paul Bickford