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BC Games medal haul for Nelson Kayak and Canoe Club paddlers

Members of the Nelson Kayak and Canoe Club include, back row, L-R, Heather Potkins, Alena Hammer (coach), Anna Milde, Noah Malefant, Carson VanHorne and coach Thomas Miller. Front, Tess Nuttall, Erica Potkins, Bailey Stefani and Tessa Timmermans. — Photo Submitted

When paddlers from the Nelson Kayak and Canoe Club boarded the bus for the Red-Eye ride to the Fraser Valley to compete in the BC Summer Games winning was probably the last thing on their minds.

Teenagers like their sleep and finding a comfortable spot on the bus first and foremost.

However, after arriving at the Summer Games, the paddlers got down to business, winning double-digit medals for the Kootenay Zone during the three-day competition hosted in Abbotsford.

“We’re really happy with our results,” said 15-year-old Heather Potkins, a veteran with the two-year-old Nelson Kayak and Canoe Club.

“We haven’t competed at a lot of races as we’re a new club, only two years old,” Potkins added. “So for many of us this was the first time at the Summer Games, so we’re pretty excited with our results.”

To put in to perspective how dominant a performance this was for Nelson Kayak and Canoe Club paddlers, the Kootenays won 15 medals to finish seventh in the eight-zone BC Summer Games standings.

Nelson Kayak and Canoe Club paddlers won 14 of those medals. Elizabeth Mayer of Trail won the other medal, a Silver in the Girls Pentahlon High Jump.

Potkins captured a handful of those medals, finishing first in C1 slalom, second in C1 1000 and third in C1 500 Train to Train.

Potkins also combined with Anna Milde to capture the bronze medals in C2 2000 Open race and partnered with Tessa Timmermans to win Bronze in C2 500 Train to Train.

Other medals were won by Milde and Bailey Stefani, Gold in C2 500 Learn to Train and Gold by Stefani C1 200 Learn to Train.

The quartet of Timmermans, Potkins, Stefani and Milde also combined to win bronze in Girls C4 500 Open.

The remaining members of the Kootenay paddling contingent includes Erica Potkins, Carson VanHorne, Tess Nuttall and Noah Malefant.

Coaches are Alena Hammer, Thomas Miller and Jason Rusu.

Potkins said a lot of the success for the Nelson Kayak and Canoe Club is due to former Canadian Olympian, and current coach, Jason Rusu.

Rusu was the first first athlete from Saskatchewan to be named to the Canadian team and competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics in K-2 500m and 1000m in Barcelona Spain.

Potkins said the paddlers train three times a week on Kootenay Lake.

This is the second meet in a few weeks for the Nelson Kayak and Canoe Club. The club attended an endurance race in Kamloops recently and is expected to take their boats on the road for a meet slated for Maple Ridge in September.