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Eight Southern Interior athletes set to compete on the world's biggest stage

Ready to take on the world

The eyes of the world will be on Tokyo for the next two weeks as the Summer Olympics kicked off this morning.

And, the eyes of many across the Thompson and Okanagan will be squarely focused on several athletes with roots firmly planted in the Southern Interior.

The games actually began earlier this week with the start of a handful of team events, but competition will begin in earnest Saturday (late this afternoon our time since Tokyo is 16 hours ahead).

In all, eight athletes with local ties will compete in Tokyo, three runners, two swimmers, a basketball player, mountain bike rider and skateboarder.

The games were scheduled for the summer of 2020, but were postponed due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic.

With COVID-19 vaccinations in Japan lagging behind much of the world, and cases of the virus on the rise, protests in the country have called for the cancellation of the games.

Local athletes who spoke with Castanet prior to heading to Tokyo said they felt safe, and were ready to compete.

In a recent interview, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran says he hopes residents and show their support, despite the difficult times we are facing.

"I couldn't be more proud that they are representing us over there, and wishing them the best of luck," he said.

"I love this time of year, I love being able to turn on the TV at all hours of the day participating.

"While it's obviously an interesting time in the world with the pandemic we're still dealing with, I hope that people will rally around our local athletes and send them their love and support."

Despite the 16 hour time difference between B.C. and Japan, Castanet will do its best to keep you as up to date as possible on the progress of our eight athletes.

Here is a rundown of each athlete, and when they are scheduled to compete. (All times noted are Pacific Time)

  • Matt Berger - Kamloops. Street skateboard. 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 24
  • Catharine Pendrel - Kamloops. Women's cross-country mountain bike. 11 a.m. Monday, July 26
  • Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe - Penticton. Women's basketball. First game 1:20 a.m. Monday, July 26 vs. Serbia
  • Kierra Smith - Kelowna. Swimming (breaststroke) 100 metre. Heats begin 3:30 a.m. Sunday, July 25. 200 metre. Heats begin 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, July
  • Taylor Ruck - Kelowna (born). Swimming (backstroke) 100 metre. Heats begin 3 a.m. Sunday, July 25. 200 metre. Heats begin 4 a.m. Thursday, July 29-31.
  • John Gay - Kelowna. 3,000 metre steeplechase. 5:15 a.m. Monday, Aug.2
  • Jerome Blake - Kelowna. Men's 4X100 metre relay. Heats begin 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3
  • Malindi Elmore - Kelowna. Women's marathon. 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6

Both Kierra Smith and Taylor Ruck could be named to relay teams. Those will not be announced until later in the week.

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