Big Country Zone 2, which includes the Cochrane area, has returned as the top team in the Alberta 55-Plus Summer Games.

Held over the weekend in Brooks and the County of Newell, they accumulated a massive 42 gold, 12 silver, and 19 bronze medals.

The closest of the eight zones was Black Gold/Yellowhead Zone 5 with 71 medals, followed by Calgary with 66.

Big Country also had the largest delegation for the 16 sports featured at the games with about 130 of the 850 people participating in the games.

Ten of the medals were earned in the photography and needlework categories of the cultural events.

Area director Doug Campbell, of Cochrane, says they heavily recruited people to come out and have a little fun.

"We might pretend that we have fresher mountain air or something like that, but I think the key was encouraging people to get up off the couch, go have fun, and if they won a medal, that's a bonus."

joan gunnSwimmer Joan Gunn-Allard won five medals medals, four in individual events and one with the relay team. (photo contributed)

He says about 50 of the medallists are from the Cochrane area, and those who wrapped gold around their necks are guaranteed the opportunity to advance to the Canada 55 Plus Games in Quebec City next summer.

Campbell says he believes this is the first time Big Country has come out on top since the 2013 55-Plus Winter Games in Calgary.

GrizzliesThe Zone 2 Grizzlies won the 65-plus slopitch tournament and the Red Sox won bronze in the +70 event. (photo contributed)
Doug and NancyDoug Campbell and Nancy Gibbie won gold in floor shuffleboard. (photo contributed)
 Barb Imeson & Paulette McKinnon Barb Imeson & Paulette McKinnon won gold in 75+ women's pickleball. (photo contributed)

He praised the massive number of volunteers who made the games possible.

"They had lots of volunteers and because there's 16 different games it takes a large team. It requires facility and equipment management for each sport, judging officials, and then there's the more formal stuff, like the opening ceremonies and the formal banquet."

The banquet in itself attracted 1,000 people.

Traditionally, the 55-Plus Games are hosted by one zone, but it's taking an entirely different look for the 2024 Winter Games. The events are being split up between several municipalities, including Cochrane, which will be hosting the curling events.

Funding for 55-plus sports has been cut by 99 per cent by the provincial government, says Campbell.

"We would like to think that the Seniors ministry, the Health ministry, and the Sports ministry could all find some inducement to keep seniors off the couch. When they're active and busy, they're healthier physically, socially, and mentally, and that's got to be a bonus for the province. We'll try and fight those battles when we have time."

Full medal results from Zone 2 participants, including those in the Cochrane area, are currently being compiled.

Zone 2 is administered by Big Country Seniors Sports Society, stretching east to west from the Saskatchewan to B.C. borders. It goes as far north as the Three Hills area and south as High River.

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