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This article was published 6/6/2017 (860 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Retired rower Janine Stephens didn’t hesitate to donate to the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame when representatives with the hallowed hall put out the call for Canada Games memorabilia.
It’s easier to part with one medal when you own a couple.
One of her bronze medals from the 2001 Canada Summer Games now sits inside a display case as part of The 50 years of Canada Games Exhibit, 1967-2017, officially unveiled Tuesday inside the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre on Pacific Avenue.
The other bronze medal she won as a 19-year-old in London, Ont., is tucked away with other special belongings, such as the silver medal she secured 11 years later at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, as part of the women’s eights rowing team. She also owns two world championship silver medals in the women’s eights.
Indeed, she’s got plenty of hardware, but Stephens, formerly Janine Hanson, a Winnipegger who was actually born in California but moved with her parents to the Manitoba capital when she was a toddler, has no less love for the medals won on the smaller stage and what they represented then and now.
"For me, I remember the feeling (in 2001) of getting my Team Manitoba gear and how exciting that was to be able to represent the province and feel like a part of something bigger than just rowing," she said.
"It’s cool to be able to share (the medal) with people.
"I had a great experience and coming home with a medal and sharing it now years later and then again in another 50 years, hopefully, I think that’s exciting for people and gives them hope, especially the young ones who think maybe that could be them some day."
Stephens is coaching Manitoba’s rowing team at the upcoming Canada Summer Games, July 28 to Aug. 13. Competition in 14 of 16 summer sports will be held in Winnipeg, while rowers will churn up the water in Kenora and the sailing event is set for Gimli.
The hall of fame exhibition features significant photos and artifacts from every province and territory in the nation. Highlights include medals, artifacts, uniforms and more from the first Games in 1967 in Quebec City all the way to the most recent Games in 2015 in Prince George, B.C.
Ina Light has a unique connection to the inaugural event and the last one held. She captured a silver medal in mixed curling in Quebec City, losing on the last rock in the 10th end to a foursome from Alberta, and was a proud grandmother when Weston Oryniak won a gold medal at the ’15 Games in men’s curling.
Oryniak’s brother, Derek, earned a bronze medal in curling at the 2011 Games in Halifax.
"Our family has all three!" said Light, who played third on the provincial team in ’67, while Betty Hird tossed lead rocks. Both ladies were at the hall of fame Tuesday to participate in the unveiling with other Games alumni.
"I remember there was so much snow and the games were always late because we were taken by school buses and traffic was moving so slow," Light recalled.
"The people were wonderful. We really got to know all the volunteers and experienced French culture. It was great. And we met other athletes."
Hird said: "It was the first Games and I think the organizers were learning as they went. It felt more like a bonspiel. It was really lovely to win a silver medal. That’s 50 years ago — it’s hard to believe."
The Games display includes treasures from Canadian sporting legends, such as retired Montreal Canadiens forward Bob Gainey’s hockey jersey when he played for Team Ontario at the ’71 Canada Winter Games; the track suit of three-time Olympic sprinter Bruny Surin, who competed for Team Quebec at the ’85 Canada Summer Games; and 1976 Olympic medallist Nancy Garapick’s swimsuit and medals. She competed for Team Nova Scotia at the ’73 Canada Summer Games.
The exhibition also features exhibits of local sporting stars who got their starts at the Canada Games, such as Desiree Scott (national soccer team), retired NBA player Todd MacCulloch, of Winnipeg, and former major league baseball player Corey Koskie of Anola.
Rick Brownlee, executive director of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, said planning of the exhibition began eight months ago and the word went to sports institutions and governing bodies across Canada.
"Some of the sister institutions from across the provinces and territories were very eager to lend their support, step up and give us their treasures for the duration of this exhibit," Brownlee said.
Don and Doran Sewell, already in the hall of fame for their remarkable accomplishments — both nationally and internationally — in rifle shooting, said they were thrilled to see some of their most cherished items — a rifle, hat and uniform, pictures, crests, pins and medals — under glass.
The married couple competed for Canada around the world. But Don, who will be 90 in just two weeks, and Doran, say representing Team Manitoba together at the Canada Summer Games in 1973 in New Westminster-Burnaby, B.C., was one of the highlights of their lives.
"I’m absolutely thrilled to see (the exhibition)," Doran said.
"As rifle shooters, we were pariahs in the sporting world, so we showed we were just regular people who had a different skill.
"To see what we accomplished on display is really wonderful."
Visitors to the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre are encouraged to check out the displays at the hall of fame.
Hours are being extended during the 17-day multi-sport event. For more details, visit sportmanitoba.ca/hall-of-fame.
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Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).