For Penticton’s Greg Ovenden and Tim Lord, the B.C. Winter Games in Mission will be about more than just draining baskets and shutting down opponents.
“I’m looking forward to meeting new people, new friends, old friends,” said Lord, a member of the Penticton Special Olympics basketball team. “It’s actually very exciting (to compete). Both of us are willing to get to know everybody and just do the best we can as a team.”
“I’m very excited about going,” said Ovenden. “Just meeting new players and everything.”
Ovenden and Lord were chosen to compete in the winter games with the Thompson/Okanagan zone from a group of 12 Penticton athletes. The team is made up of players from Kelowna, Vernon and West Kelowna.
Marlene Keen, a volunteer coach with Penticton Special Olympics, said they pick up things quickly.
“Anything that you teach them, they learn it quite fast,” she said. “Their shooting skills are really good. Their teamwork is great.”
Keen said that Ovenden regularly helps her out to sets things up for the basketball practices they have at the Penticton Community Centre.
“Greg is marvelous. Great person to have representing Special Olympics,” she said.
Lord is enjoying his first year with the group. He said it was a surprise for him to get selected. On the court, he enjoys playing strong defensively. Ovenden, a fan of retired NBA champion Michael Jordan, is a shooter and loves to pull the trigger from the side. While both enjoy the sport in a non-competitive atmosphere with their peers, they look forward to stepping things up against B.C.’s best.
“I like being competitive,” said Ovenden, who is excited to go with Lord. “Tim is a really good teammate to go with. We get along really nicely.”
“With me and Greg, it’s like team sport and competitive,” said Lord.
Keen hopes they get the chance to watch the other sports, but also that they return to Penticton with more skills.
“They can show the whole group,” said Keen, who said she would have no problem with Lord and Ovenden taking over practices. “It’s a marvelous opportunity for them. Just for what they will learn.
“It’s not just the games, it’s a little bit of everything,” she added.
Lord and Ovenden were excited to meet their new teammates at a practice held in Vernon. Asked if they think about winning a medal, Ovenden said he hopes that is in the cards.
“If not, we’re going to have fun anyway,” said Lord, who likes NBA star Kobe Bryant as well as Jordan. “We like traveling a lot. With this opportunity, we’re getting to know people and get to know the coaches.”