Sports hall welcomes 4

The call to the hall has been answered.

The ranks of the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Museum swelled by four Tuesday morning.

The 2004 Memorial Cup champion Kelowna Rockets will be inducted in the team category, the late Glen Mervyn in the athlete category, while Gillian Thomson, and Mike and Brenda Van Tighem will be inducted in the builders category.

"It's a great honour, it really is," said Mervyn's widow Christina.

Glen Mervyn died 14 years ago after a lengthy battle with cancer.

"He was just the most positive person in the world. Even when he was battling cancer he never said 'poor me' - ever. He just said we are going to beat this and for a while we thought he had."

Mervyn won a silver medal as part of the men's eight rowing team at the 1960 Rome Olympics and coached the men's pairs to a gold medal four years later in Tokyo.

At age 50 be became a national and world cycling champion in his age category.

After falling in the semi-final at the 2003 Memorial Cup in Quebec City, the Kelowna Rockets bounced back on home ice to win it all the following year.

The Rockets went through the 2004 Memorial Cup undefeated, beating Gatineau 2-1 in the championship game.

Assistant coach Dan Lambert, who ironically was not part of that team, represented the club during Tuesday's induction announcement.

"That team in 2004 certainly set the bar high for our organization. It's something we try to emulate every single year and when you see the likes of Shea Weber, Josh Gorges and guys of that magnitude that played on that team, they're pretty good role models," said Lambert.

"When you see how difficult it is to win that Memorial Cup - not only to go through the playoffs but then to have a tournament where one loss can send you home. It's not easy for these young men."

Lambert said it was a special moment for the players on the 2004 team to be able to win the championship in front of the home town crowd.

Thomson, who won gold and silver medals at the Hobie 18 world championships and Pan American Games, is responsible for growing the sport of sailing in Kelowna.

She has garnered provincial, national and international recognition for her Learn to Sail and Disabled Sailing programs.

"I was born and raised in Kelowna so sport in Kelowna has always been a big part of my life - my family's life," said Thomson.

"The hall of fame was exciting when it was developed several years ago. I didn't expect to be standing up here with the inductees. It's really a big honour."

Thomson said her induction also brings recognition to the sport of sailing.

"It's not a sport that always was widely recognized in Kelowna. I would say sailing in the Okanagan in the last 20 years has grown in leaps and bounds with young kids learning to sail," she said.

"I didn't have the chance to learn to sail as a young child. I learned as an adult at the Central Okanagan Sailing Association. Next thing you know I was in charge of it."

Thomson said running the association has been both satisfying and an honour.

Mike and Brenda Van Tighem were the face of track and field in Kelowna for many years.

Together they helped form the Kelowna Track and Field Club, and build the Jack Brow Track Meet into a premier event in Western Canada. They also coached several athletes to world and junior Pan Am championships and berths in the Olympics.

Mike and Brenda live and work in Calgary and were unable to be at Tuesday's announcement.

Don Bertoia read a statement on their behalf.

"This is a tremendous honour, an honour that only could be made possible by the small group of people who had the foresight and initiative to form the Kelowna Track and Field Club in 1983.

"That group was made up of people with the highest integrity who formed the track club for the best possible reason - for the kids. Without those who built and developed the Kelowna Track and Field Club and those who worked tirelessly to maintain the sport of track and field in the school system, we would not be receiving this recognition today."

The new members of the hall will be officially inducted at a gala breakfast Thursday, Nov 20 starting at 7 a.m. at the Coast Capri Hotel.

Tickets are available at Kelowna Museums.


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