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Sports archive for September 14, 2012

Olympian, Zach Bell, will be in Whitehorse this weekend

It’s not every day that Whitehorse’s Millennium Trail serves as the route of choice for an Olympic-calibre athlete.

By Stephanie Waddell on September 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

PRE-FATHERHOOD VISIT PLANNED – Zach Bell, seen in March 2011, will prepare to become a father after he attends this weekend’s events in Whitehorse.

It’s not every day that Whitehorse’s Millennium Trail serves as the route of choice for an Olympic-calibre athlete.

That will indeed be the case both Saturday and Sunday, however, as Zach Bell returns to his home territory.

The only Yukoner to compete in the 2012 London Olympics this summer, Bell will be riding the Millennium Trail – first on Saturday to promote his Zach Bell Sport Access Fund for Youth that’s being set up through Sport Yukon, then on Sunday for the annual Terry Fox Run.

In an interview Wednesday from Vancouver, Bell – who grew up in Watson Lake – said Saturday’s session will serve as an announcement and kick-off of the new funding program.

He said he is looking for a way to give back to the Yukon, and worked with Sport Yukon to come up with the fund.

“It’s (to) provide better access for kids,” he said.

He added he wants to help out youth who might otherwise represent the territory in sporting events but can’t due to financial limitations.

As he pointed out, travel and lodging can be expensive, especially for those in the communities who may also have to travel into Whitehorse just to be part of a team.

The sport access fund is designed to assist youth who may “fall through the cracks” of other funding programs.

Saturday’s kick-off event will get underway at 10:30 a.m. with a kids and parents ride on the Millennium Trail with Bell. Participants are asked to meet in the parking lot of the SS Klondike at Robert Service Way and Fourth Avenue between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

After the easier ride, Bell will be part of a more difficult two 25-kilometre laps with those looking for more of a challenge.

During that ride, Bell will also offer some tips and do some skills exercises for more competitive racers.

That ride is set to end at around 12:45 with a meet and greet to be held until 2 p.m. Refreshments and snacks will also be offered.

Kids under 12 can take part in the ride for free with suggested donations of $10 for youth aged 13 to 18 and $25 for adults.

Community Services Minister Elaine Taylor offered her praise for the Yukon athlete, noting: “Zach is a dedicated, professional athlete who takes seriously his responsibility as a role model and ambassador for sport in Yukon.

“Yukoners are extremely proud of all that he has accomplished through hard work, perseverance and dedication.

“This fund-raising effort is his way of giving back to the community while raising awareness about the importance of community partnerships, sport and recreation and healthy living.”

On Sunday, Bell’s generosity will continue as he takes to the trail on his bike for the annual Terry Fox Run.

Run organizer George Maratos is inviting residents to “bring the entire family down and ride with a homegrown Olympic athlete.”

The run is also set to start at the SS Klondike at 1 p.m., with registration getting underway at noon.

Yukon singer and musician Kim Beggs is set to provide live entertainment, and there will be coffee and a barbecue.

“Since its inception, more than $600 million has been raised for the Terry Fox Foundation through participating in Terry Fox events,” it was noted in a statement.

More than 30 years ago, during the early days of Fox’s attempted run across Canada to raise money for cancer research, he was unknown to many, and generating funds wasn’t easy.

“It is that challenge that compelled Terry to rise at 4 a.m. each day and run the equivalent of a marathon; that being the knowledge that nothing is tougher to deal with than a diagnosis of cancer, devastating news delivered to 455 Canadians every day,” it was noted.

“It was in the face of this kind of adversity that Terry formed his indomitable spirit, and the Terry Fox Foundation was born.”

Run participants are asked to contribute what they can, keeping in mind Fox was about the effort, taking himself to the limit and bringing an end to cancer. The disease claimed his life in June 1981.

“The Terry Fox Run empowers each and every one of us to make a difference, following Terry’s lead,” it was noted.

The Yukon has raised more than $20,000 from the run over the last three years.

After that event, Bell will head back to B.C., where his wife is expecting their first child.

While Bell is pleased to be visiting Whitehorse, he acknowledged he would have liked to have a longer trip so he’d have time to visit his hometown of Watson Lake.

“I’m pretty disappointed with that,” he said.

While he had looked at heading to the southern Yukon community, he added, the logistics just didn’t work.

He’s hoping some Watson Lakers will be able to make it to Whitehorse this weekend for either of the events.

In the meantime, he’s looking forward to becoming a dad.

He’s also weighing his career options, as his contract with the Spidertech pro cycling team comes up next year.

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