Athletes from across Canada broke records, made new connections
OTTAWA, ON, 30 AUGUST, 2023 – The dust has settled, the crowds have dispersed, and medals awarded - but the sportsmanship and new connections remain a strong part of the experience for the hundreds of competitors and their families, over 130 coaches, and many supporters who attended the recent Legion Nationals in Sherbrooke, QC.
“I’m glad that we’re here to represent Nova Scotia, and as well have a great track to run on and have a good team spirit,” said Lauren, a competitor at the Games.
“The competition is second to none,” said Brian Weaver, the Legion’s national Sports Committee chair. “Everybody has been cheering everybody … they are hugging everyone … it’s a beautiful thing to see,” he said during the event.
The forecasted bad weather held off, and talented athletes earned over 300 gold, silver and bronze medals while competing from August 11-13. Over 600 Legion-supported competitors and over 300 “open” athletes took part in 84 events encompassing sports from running to the discus throw. While athletes were focused on winning a medal or setting a personal best, they also enjoyed the inherent camaraderie of the Games – making new connections and creating lifelong memories.
“I’ve had a great experience,” said Hayley from Saskatchewan. “My favourite thing was that I got to compete against some really good athletes.”
Her teammate Happy expressed similar feelings. “The best thing about this weekend was getting a 2-second personal best in my 400 (m) hurdles, and I just met a lot of great people and I’ll cherish the memories with me.”
Decorated para-athlete Michael Trauner became the first ever Games Ambassador this year, sharing his inspiring story and expertise, and providing moral support to the young participants.
“I’ve got to tell you that I’m very, very proud to be here representing all of Canada and these young athletes that I’ve gotten to personally know,” he expressed during the Games. “The dedication I’ve seen…I’m very proud to represent them.”
As a retired military Veteran, Trauner lost both his legs and endured related injuries while serving in Afghanistan. With tremendous determination, he bounced back into a successful competitive athletic career.
Each year at the Games top Legion-supported athletes are awarded special recognition.
In 2023, the Top Female Athlete/Leroy Washburn award went to Team Saskatchewan’s Hannah Gates (for Gold in U16 800m, Gold in U16 1200m, Gold in U16 Triple Jump, and Bronze in U16 Medley). The Top Male Athlete/Jack Stenhouse Award went to Team Quebec’s Caleb Pivin (for Gold in U16 100m Hurdles, Gold in U16 Pentathlon, and Bronze in U16 4 x 100m Relay).
Legion Nationals meet coordinator Steve Van Muyen said the competition is ultimately about the power of sport and “focused on positively impacting the lives of Canadian youth through meaningful engagement and life changing experiences,” he described. He thanked all those involved for their partnership and tremendous support.
The 2023 Legion Nationals were hosted by Université de Sherbrooke, Bishops university, and the city of Sherbrooke, with events held at the Université de Sherbrooke Stadium. The yearly event is Canada’s only track and field competition for the under-16 and under-18 categories. The Legion Nationals originated with Legionnaires’ support and promotion of youth sports as a healthy activity to help children whose fathers or mothers were serving abroad or had served in the Armed Forces.
“The competition has been brilliant, the athletes have been superb,” said Dominion President Bruce Julian on the final day of the meet. He also commended close to 250 volunteers who made the event a reality. “It’s a great collaboration,” he noted.
This year’s championships also commemorated the 75th anniversary of United Nations Peacekeeping, which was reflected in the design of this year’s winning medals.
Canadian cities host the Legion Nationals for two years, and the next city hosting the Games in 2024 and 2025 is Calgary, Alberta.
2023 Games Records:
2023 Legion Nationals information centre
Legion Nationals background
About The Royal Canadian Legion
Founded in 1925, the Legion is Canada’s largest Veteran support and community service organization. We are a non-profit organization with a national reach across Canada as well as branches in the U.S., and in Europe. With more than 250,000 members, many of whom volunteer an extraordinary amount of time to their branches, our strength is in our numbers.
Public Relations & Media – Nujma Bond 343-540-7604: PublicRelations@Legion.ca