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The Ontario Summer Games Come to London

The Forest City hosts the prestigious event showcasing the province’s best amateur athletes

The Ontario Summer Games will once again take place in London Ontario – the fourth time in the event’s history that the province’s best competitors have planned to meet here to test their mettle against one another in their sport of choice. London also hosted the Ontario Summer Games in 1975, 1996, and 2004, drawing spectators from far and wide to see our best and brightest upcoming talents compete at an elite level.

The London 2018 Ontario Summer Games will be held Thursday, August 2nd to Sunday, August 5th, 2018. Because it falls on the August Civic long weekend, it will be especially easy for spectators, athletes, and their families to attend. The event will showcase the best amateur athletes from across Ontario, competing in 21 different sports, hosted in over 20 venues across the city.

On August 11th, 2016, Tourism London issued a press release just prior to the official announcement that London would be the next host city given during the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Ontario Summer Games in Mississauga. Minister Deb Matthews was at the Canada Games Aquatic Centre to make the announcement, along with Mayor Matt Brown, Tourism London General Manager John Winston, Western University Athletic Director Christine Stapleton, and London 2018 Ontario Summer Games General Manager Dave De Kelver.

Daiene Vernile, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport offered the following comment to the London Free Press: “Congratulations to the City of London on being selected as the host city of the 2020 Ontario Summer Games! With your world-class venues and facilities, and a strong legacy as a premier sport-hosting city, these Games are sure to be an unforgettable experience for athletes, volunteers and visitors. We are pleased to support the 2020 Ontario Summer Games through our Games Ontario program that encourages competitive opportunities for amateur athletes to pursue their sports goals while boosting local tourism, economic activity and volunteerism.”

In the agency’s press release, Cheryl Finn – Tourism London’s Director of Sport Tourism says that London i “honoured to have been chosen as the host community for the 2018 Ontario Summer Games… London has a phenomenal history of successfully hosting multi-sport events and we plan to provide athletes and their families with an experience in our city that they will never forget.” Finn explained how hosting events like the Ontario Summer Games not only brings revenue into the city, but it also heightens the city’s profile as a training opportunity for young and promising athletic talent. “It’s a great opportunity to have 3500 youth athletes on our campuses and in our facilities over a four-day period,” she said.

London Mayor Matt Brown was ecstatic about the news and had the following to say at the announcement: “We are a sports city through and through and it’s so fitting that we’ve been chosen as host city for the 2020 Ontario Summer Games. We have an army of volunteers at the ready to make this event amazing and we are so proud of our hometown athletes, who I know will do great things. Congratulations to everyone at Tourism London and the team who has worked so hard on this already.”

History

The Ontario Summer Games is supported by the Ontario Games Program – an initiative of the Ontario Government. The program assists with the realization of numerous events, including the Ontario Winter and Summer Games for youth, the Ontario 55+ Summer and Winter Games and the Ontario Parasport Games.

The program’s mandate is just one manifestation of Game ON – The Ontario Government’s Sport Plan designed to get young people energized about participating in organized sports in addition to improving coaching and training accessibility to Ontario’s high-performance athletes pursue excellence. Promoting increased tourism and economic development is also a key focus, working hand-in-hand with the needs and goals of each host city.

The 2018 Ontario Summer Games are scheduled to take place August 3 to 5. Bill Merrylees, a detective superintendent with the London Police Services (also the president and CEO of the Can-Am Police-Fire Games Federation and vice president of the International Police Sport Union) has been chosen to chair the London Host Organizing Committee.

“This is great and exciting news that London has been selected to host the Ontario Summer Games in 2018,” Merrylees said. “We have great venues and our volunteers will make the athletes and their families feel welcomed.”

The Ontario Summer Games is the largest multi-sport event in the province. Over 3,000 youth athletes, coaches, managers and officials are expected to attend. The event will include 22-27 different sports and is expected to produce an economic impact of over $6 million for the city, according to Tourism London.

The Ontario Games Program began in 1970 as an event geared towards letting people see the best the province had to offer in amateur sport with Etobicoke was the first host city. Today, the Games is Ontario’s largest multi-sport event and features both teams and individual competitors. Athletes in the U14 and U16 divisions are vetted through a regional selection process involving coaches, clubs, and organizations across the province. The best selected to an ‘East vs West Team’ who compete to win the “Best in Ontario” title.

Fostering the talents of bantam and midget-aged athletes is part and parcel of Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) opportunities is a key focus of the Ontario Summer Games.

Multiple organizations convene resources and equipment in order to provide numerous opportunities for athletes in terms of developmental training, including Provincial and National Level Coaching, the ability to consult with subject matter experts regarding their nutrition, cross-training strategies, and injury recuperation approach. Athletes also learn advanced techniques and lifestyle methodologies from more senior mentors such as mental preparation, positive visualization, team building, and leadership.

For many athletes, this is their first competitive experience outside their hometown communities, giving them a sense of where they stand among their respective competition, but also inspiring them with the excitement of getting to compete in more high-profile venues, and in front of larger crowds. Many of these young rising stars are just beginning to build impressive careers for themselves and are only starting to get noticed, destined to go on to even greater heights.

London Ontario – A Legacy of Sport

When the Province of Ontario made the announcement, it once again recognized London as a city and community with a long and cherished history in the world of sport. For decades the city has been the source of athletic achievement, producing some of the most decorated and high-profile figures to compete at the most elite levels on the international stage.

For starters, the Western Mustang varsity program is one of the oldest in North America, boasting an almost 100-year tradition of victories, OUA banners, and international championships. In addition to producing consistently superior teams, the university has also consistently boasted one of the most impressive coaching rosters around. Renowned for its football program that has won Mustangs 31 provincial championships and seven national championships, The university leads Canadian Varsity sport. The Western cheerleading squad has won their national championships 31 times – 22 times consecutively.

The Mustang rowing team has also performed quite strongly over the years, thanks in no small part to Canadian National Team coaches who have also overseen the training and development of many high profile, locally-born Canadian rowers who have won World Championships and Olympic gold medals, such as Adam Kreek and Leslie Thompson-Wilie. Mustang crews have also performed impressively overseas and across the United States. Local outfit Hudson Boat Works works hand-in-hand with the development of Western rowers has become the leading manufacturer of carbon fibre rowing shells internationally.

Goodlife Fitness, the most recognized franchise name in Canadian members-only gyms also has its origins and corporate headquarters in the Forest City, helping to promote healthy, and active lifestyles through their own programming and also their sponsoring of countless athletic events.

The London Knights, owned by brothers and former NHLers, Mark and Dale Hunter, have built the local team into one of the most closely-watched sources of elite-level hockey talent in the country. The Knights have produced some of the finest players seen enter the NHL over the past few years, including John Tavares (Leafs), Nazam Kadri (Leafs), and Corey Perry (Mighty Ducks) – all first-round draft picks. Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter. Drew Doughty. Paul Henderson (Lucan?). Mitch Marner and Paul Henderson (who as a member of Team Canada scored the historic goal against the Soviet Union during the Summit Series) each emerged from the team. Perry and Tavares played on Team Canada and won Olympic gold. The team was also where Max Domi and Eric Lindros were noticed during their time in the OHL.

Despite such an impressive on-ice record, London’s summertime athletes are not to be outdone. Though no longer a club, the London Majors were one of the longest-standing and original teams among the Intercounty Baseball league. London is home to the London Hunt Club which recently hosted an LPGA event, in addition to producing legendary golfers and Hall-of-Famers, John Nash and Ross Sommerville.

Admission

With less than a month to go before the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Ontario Summer Games, the Host Organizing Committee has finally announced details for the events. And yes, before you ask, admission to the Opening Ceremony and all sports competitions will be open to the public and free of charge – no tickets required. However, this also implies first come / first serve seating for more popular events, so be sure to get to these well in advance. Kicking off the Games on Thursday, August 2nd at TD Stadium will be Ontario’s own and JUNO nominated Scott Helman, with support from another Juno nominee, Courage My Love.

“Enhancing the athlete experience has always been our primary consideration in planning these Games,” said Dave De Kelver, General Manager of the London 2018 Ontario Summer Games. “We have a great weekend planned, starting with the Opening Ceremony featuring Scott Helman and Courage My Love. We are also excited to share that thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, admission to the Opening Ceremony and all sports competitions will be at no cost. We are grateful to our sponsors for making this possible and further enhancing the athlete experience with stands full of family, friends, and community supporters.”

The schedule of various competitions schedule – along with the organization sponsoring free admission for each sport – can be found on the Ontario Summer Games website and social media channels. More detailed information on each sports competition including parking and competition times will be announced shortly at www.london2018.ca/sports. For the most up to date information on the Games, please continue to the Games’ at www.london2018.ca and social media accounts @OSGlondon2018.

A complete list of sports and their assigned venues is as follows:

Athletes’ Village – Western University
Archery – Crumlin Sportsmen’s Association

Athletics – TD Stadium
Baseball – City Wide Sports Park
Baseball – Dan Pulham Field
Baseball – Labatt Memorial Park
Baseball – Norm Aldridge Field
Basketball – Fanshawe College
Beach Volleyball – North London Athletic Fields
Box Lacrosse – Kinsmen Arena
Canoe Kayak – Fanshawe Conservation Area
Diving – Canada Games Aquatic Centre
Field Hockey – City Wide Sports Park
Field Lacrosse – Mustangs Field
Golf – Thames Valley Golf Club
Hockey – Thompson Arena
Mountain Bike – Boler Mountain
Cycling – TBD
Rugby – Alumni Field
Sailing – Fanshawe Conservation Area
Soccer – North London Athletic Fields
Softball – Stronach Community Recreation Centre
Table Tennis – Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre
Triathlon – Denfield
Volleyball – Alumni Hall
Volleyball – Western Student Recreation Centre

“Preparation is going very well,” said Dave De Kelver, general manager for the games. He said they recently finalized the sports schedules and participant numbers. About 1,100 people registered to volunteer for the event. With the overwhelming volunteer interest, additional volunteer registrations are now closed. Progress at event venues is also going well. The partial makeover on TD Stadium’s track is now complete. Repairs on the 100-metre sprint straightaway and the long-jump takeoff area began in June. The rest of the track should be resurfaced in time before the Games return again in 2020. City staff is working to get different parks in tip-top shape to host sports such as baseball, softball and rugby. Once a few finishing touches are added at the new beach volleyball venue at North London Athletic Fields, De Kelver said all facilities will be ready to go.

In fact, the whole city is preparing for the Games. Hotels and restaurants are hiring additional staff, and are changing their standard shift hours in order to accommodate the looming demand that faces them. The estimated impact on London’s economy is about $6 million.

“It’s good for London. It will expose people across the province to London,” said John Winston, Tourism London’s general manager. With London hosting back-to-back Games, Winston said the economic impact for the next Games in 2020 should be similar to this year’s event. As a result, London’s economy is expected to see a boost of $12 million for hosting two Games.

By supporting the Ontario Summer Games, the city is supporting their own infrastructure projects, creating opportunities to host future events. Check the official website for sports and the venues where they will be held. For outdoor events, bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and maybe a few lawn chairs if your match of choice is going to be a big draw. Come and be a part of an athletic tradition that is as much a part of London as the exceptional, elite-level athletes we have produced over the years.