YEAR IN REVIEW: Making waves around the world
They were at the top of their game — and they made us so very proud.
The Tri-Cities sent six athletes to the London 2012 Olympic Games and three of them came home with medals: a bronze for Coquitlam cyclist Jasmin Glaesser in the women's team pursuit; a bronze for Coquitlam soccer player Brittany Timko; and a silver for Port Moody rower Krista Guloien.
Coquitlam wrestler Haislan Garcia competed in his second Olympics and finished in seventh place in the men’s freestyle 66 kg division while Coquitlam gymnast Brittany Rogers vaulted the Canadian team to a fifth-place finish — a national best. And Coquitlam BMXer Tory Nyhaug took 18th place (a two-time Canadian champion, Nyhaug competed in London two months after doctors removed his spleen). Also at the Games was Coquitlam's Adam Muys, a BMX cycling coach.
As for the Paralympics, the Tri-Cities boasted blind runner Dustin Walsh of Coquitlam — who took sixth in the 4x100 men's relay and 12th in the 400 m men's event — and Port Coquitlam air rifle shooter Doug Blessin, who placed 24th and 25th in his two events.
When Port Coquitlam's Carli Travers was home for the holidays last winter with her husband, Robert Birungi, and their three children, the pair was not only raising money for their Abetavu Children's Village but they were also taking a well-deserved break.
During the three months they were based at her parents' PoCo home, the BC Christian Academy graduate — who cares for dozens of orphans in Uganda and recently gave birth to the couple's fourth child last month — spoke to several charitable groups and sold African handmade crafts, collecting thousands of dollars for Abetavu, a safe haven on 11 acres outside of Kampala. When built, it will accommodate up to 100 children in need of stability as well as provide medical and education to hundreds more. The village will also be home to Travers, Birungi and their 18 biological and adopted children.
At 26, Coquitlam's Tanya Lee is in parts of the world only few of us will get to see. The Centennial secondary graduate's human rights work (which she blogs about at goneadventurin.wordpress.com) has taken her to the most impoverished areas in Mexico (where she was with migrant youth) and in India (with Made By Survivors, a non-governmental organization that helps women who have survived human trafficking to become artisans). This fall after completing her master's degree,
Lee returned to Asia to work with the Women's Rehabilitation Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal. In September, in a column for The Tri-City News, Lee wrote: "I will have five months to continue learning about human trafficking, hopefully while standing picturesquely in Mount Everest’s shadow, with a momo (famous Nepali dumpling) in hand."
A former Gleneagle secondary student now with the College of the Atlantic, in Maine, Anjali Appadurai made waves last December when she delivered a powerful youth statement about climate change at a United Nations conference in South Africa.
This year, the Indian-born, Coquitlam-raised woman continued with her campaign, speaking out about humanitarian issues and environmental politics — including at the UN convention in Doha, Qatar — as part of a youth group called Earth in Brackets. She has also been involved with the Canadian Red Cross and SustainUS.
In October, Port Moody resident Frankie Cena — who has played in musicals with Coquitlam's Theatrix and the Lindbjerg Academy of the Performing Arts, and coaches Port Moody high school debaters — was named Mr. World Canada.
The next month, the UBC business undergraduate represented the country at the Mr. World Pageant in England, where he clinched the talent title (for his rendition of Jay Sean's "Down"), placed in the Top 5 in the multimedia category and made it into the Top 10 for the overall event — a first for Canada.
Daniela Bobadilla was a student at Coquitlam's Summit middle school when she took up acting at school and with Theatrix. She performed often and, while at Port Moody's Heritage Woods secondary, she was discovered by a talent agent and started auditioning for TV and film roles.
In 2008, Bobadilla won the Port Moody Idol title at the Golden Spike Festival and later was cast as George Lopez's daughter in the movie Mr. Troop Mom. That led the way to series of TV parts and, this year, she landed the role of a lifetime in Anger Management, starring Charlie Sheen — thanks to an introduction from Lopez.
It's been a good year for Alex Kerfoot, the 5'9", 153 lb. front-liner with the Coquitlam Express, a Junior A hockey club. Last summer, he was selected for the 2012 NHL entry draft at the Consol Energy Centre in Pittsburgh, taken in the fifth round — 150th overall — by the New Jersey Devils, a team that made it to the Stanley Cup finals this year.
A BC Hockey League Coastal Conference Rookie of the Year who last season scored 25 goals and recorded 44 assists for the Express, Kerfoot was also featured last month at the World Junior A Challenge as part of Team Canada West, which won silver at the tournament. Kerfoot is committed to playing college hockey at Harvard next year.
SFU UNIVERSITY PIPE BAND
SFU's award-winning pipe band, led by pipe major and Coquitlam resident Terry Lee, drummed home some more hardware from this summer's world championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The elite, Grade 1 band that Lee founded with his brother, Jack, the band's pipe sergeant, and has several Tri-City members, took third in the championships, its 20th top-three finish. But there were other awards, too. Its junior bands also shone, with the Grade 3 Robert Malcolm Memorial band — led by Coquitlam's Rob Menzies — clinching first place and its Grade 4 band winning third spot.
And Terry Lee's son, Alastair, also of Coquitlam, won three piping awards for his solo work at the Cowal Highland Gathering, placing first in the Strathspey and Reel, second in the March and third in the Piobaireachd. Prior to the competition, the Grade 1 pipe band was in the Big Apple to record an album, Live from New York City, at the Lincoln Center to mark its 30th year.
It's hard to match Luciano Kwon's voracious appetite for learning. In the last academic year, when the Coquitlam boy was in Grade 6, Kwon entered the world of debating and, with his team, scored first in a regional novice championship against 17 other Metro Vancouver schools. At the provincials, Kwon took first in the individual public speaking and debate divisions. And at the nationals, he was ranked 12th out of 68 competitors in a division that included students in Grade 9.
His ambition grew stronger and he formed a team for the Heart of Europe tournament, which took place this summer in the Czech Republic; they were pitted against 140 other students from 19 countries. The youngest person at the tournament, Kwon took fifth place in individual performance (the team was eliminated in the eighth preliminary round). Recently, the Grade 7 student won the 2012 UBC debate competition among 200 Grade 9 and 10 competitors from across the country. As for his future, Kwon told The Tri-City News in August he plans to be Canada's first Asian prime minister.
A number of Tri-City dancers competed in international competitions this year — with a few bringing home accolades. In total, 44 young dancers from B.C. took part in the International Dance Organization's world championships in Germany in October, with Team Canada named the most outstanding country out of the 23 nations competing. Team Canada won 34 medals in total — 16 of them golden.
Among the top local winners were from the Tri-City Dance Centre (Matisse Maitland, gold for pointe solo), from danceLab (Samantha Sadler, gold for senior jazz solo and silver for senior contemporary solo) and from Danzemode (Kristina Akester, gold for pointe solo). Also, in July, several Tri-City dancers with the Penk O'Donnell School of Irish Dance were in Chicago to compete in the North American Irish Dancing Championships.
AND THEIR EYES OVER HERE
The sad story of a Port Coquitlam teen reaching out for help on the internet after being repeatedly bullied — and later killing herself following a hospital stay for severe depression — touched millions of people around the world. Amanda Michelle Todd, 15, was a Grade 10 student at CABE in Coquitlam when, earlier this year, she posted a video on YouTube in which she used flash cards to tell about her struggles. Her suicide prompted immediate reaction from Premier Christy Clark — a long-time anti-bullying campaigner and champion of Pink Shirt Day — from community leaders in the Tri-Cities and Maple Ridge, where she previously went to school, and from far afield.
A series of vigils were held across Canada and internationally to remember Todd and other bullying victims (in Toronto, the school district held a minute of silence). And a member of Parliament introduced a motion to study bullying and to ask for more funding for anti-bullying groups. Back in Port Coquitlam, city council this month passed a motion to look at implementing an anti-bullying bylaw. Todd's mother, Carol, told The Tri-City News six weeks after her daughter's death: "The support has been phenomenal."
More than 55,000 people — many of them from across Canada and the United States — flocked to Coquitlam in late August for a chance to see 48 of the top 50 players on the current LPGA money list compete. The 2012 CN Canadian Women's Open Pro Am took place at the Vancouver Golf Club (VGC) on Austin Avenue over four days, an event that also raised $1.8 million for the BC Children's Hospital. The tournament was a nail-biter, with the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion Lydia Ko besting such pros as Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Chella Choi and Jiyai Shin. At 15 years old, Ko became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history.
VGC general manager Brent Gough told The Tri-City News the club and the city showed well to 126 million television viewers. "CBC and TSN had really great aerial shots and the golf course looked so good," he said last week. "[Sports anchor] Ron MacLean of CBC just kept saying 'Coquitlam' over and over again. It was wonderful." Now that it's over, Gough said the club has gained a few more members and Golf Canada has already expressed its interest to return to VGC in about five years.
All eyes were on Thermal Drive in May as Man in Motion Rick Hansen challenged the brutal Coquitlam hill for the fourth time as part of his 25th anniversary world. Hansen, who had previously conquered it in 1987 and for the 10th and 20th anniversaries, had been training for Thermal — a 1.9 km route that rises to 532.4 ft. above sea level — for four months. A week before his historic fourth climb, Hansen, 54, told The Tri-City News: "In my approach to the hill this time, my goal is to complete the journey successfully but not break a world record. The hill seems insurmountable but the only way you do it is you put your hands on the wheels and you push hard — one stroke at a time."
The climb was part of a celebration relay that passed through 127 Canadian communities before ending in Vancouver on May 22. Prior to the national jaunt with 7,000 "difference makers," Hansen visited several countries that he had wheeled through prior to 1987 and his foundation created partnerships in Israel, Jordan, Australia and the United States. The 25th anniversary tour garnered attention from more than 350 media outlets, including the Jerusalem Post, which put Hansen on the front page — the first time a Canadian story has been given such high profile, said media spokesperson Dan Enjo.
STANLEY CUP RIOTERS
Several Tri-City residents went before judges this year in connection with last year's Stanley Cup riots, which gave Vancouver a black eye internationally following the Canucks' loss in the playoff final in 2011. Coquitlam's Ryan Dickinson, who was on probation during the riot, received a 17-month jail sentence in February after he admitted to trashing an unmarked police car and vandalizing a clothing store; Dickinson, who was the first person convicted in the riots, told the court he was "caught up in the moment." Patrick Judge, a 25-year-old Port Moody resident charged with break and enter, two counts of mischief and participating in a riot, pleaded guilty in July to his crimes.
And the next month, Vassili Kisselev, 22, of Coquitlam, who faced one count of participating in a riot and a break and enter charge, also pleaded guilty. In April, two young offenders from Coquitlam were also charged. As of last week, the Vancouver Police Department had recommended 1,040 charges against 315 people.