As we have now completed another very successful Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships hosted in Langley, BC, I wanted to thank our more than 300,000 Legion members in more than 1,400 Legion branches across Canada, the United States, Europe and Mexico for their support and dedication to these championships. Most specifically, I must thank the Legion Ladies Auxiliary in B.C. who were the local arrangements committee for these championships. They delivered an exceptional games experience for all athletes.
The Royal Canadian Legion hosts an annual track and field competition because we believe there is a continuing need to develop Canada’s youth. There are so few opportunities for Youth aged 17 and under to come together, compete, share, learn and laugh. The athletes in the Legion Nationals create friendships and memories that will last them a lifetime. Performing on a national stage also takes their dedication to their sport and themselves to an even higher level.
They are ambassadors for their branch and club; for their town or city and their province. These athletes develop personal and communications skills that will carry them through their lives. They learn how to be leaders, not just by winning a medal, but by seeing first-hand what it means to put everything you have into something you truly believe in. Leaders are never born, they are made from their life experiences. By hosting a national track and field competition the Legion plays a definitive role in creating Canada’s next generation of leaders. In its earliest days, the Legion sports mentoring program helped kids whose father or mother was killed in war. The Legion program filled a need then, just as it does today.
More than 700 young athletes and para-athletes from across the country competed in their chosen fields and broke a total of 51 Legion track records and several dozen personal best records. It is worth noting the Legion Nationals are the only national meet for youth aged from 14-17, in Canada. Many former competitors have gone on to World and/or Olympic glory during the 38-year history of these championships. In the 2012 London Olympics 60% of the athletes on Team Canada came up through the Legion track program. Other former Legion athletes include Lynn Kanuka, Marie-Josée Le Jour, Angela Bailey, Mike Smith, Angela Chalmers, Glenroy Gilbert and Robert Esmie as well the entire Canadian Olympic team medalists from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles!
Again, thank you to the hundreds of Legion members, the volunteers from the Langley area, coaches and officials, and others who helped with these championships. To the millions of Canadians who proudly supported their local Legion branches – you can feel so proud of what your Legion does to make these championships a success. We are truly grateful and look forward to next year’s championships that will be held in Sainte-Thérèse, Québec in August 2015. Join the Legion today and support our communities and our Veterans. Because you care! Because you can!
Lest We Forget
Dominion Sports Chairman
The Royal Canadian Legion