Danielle Lawrie addresses media at Wednesday’s announcement of $150,000 in provincial funding towards the cost of hosting the Olympic qualifier. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Next month’s Olympic qualifier softball tournament in Surrey got a boost from the provincial government Wednesday afternoon.

At a media event held at South Surrey’s Softball City, it was announced that the provincial ministry of tourism, arts and culture is providing the 2019 Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament – in which a dozen international women’s fastpitch teams will vie for two spots in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo – with $150,000 through the ‘Tourism Events’ and ‘Major Events’ programs.

The tournament is set to run from Aug. 25 until Sept. 1, and will include the Canadian national team, which on Sunday won its second-straight Canada Cup tournament on the same field at which the August qualifier will be held.

Surrey-Guildford MLA Garry Begg described the funding as “some great news about high-performance sport.”

“It’s an enormous honour to have Team Canada softball players take to the diamond right here in Surrey in their quest for Olympic competition,” Begg said during the news conference.

“Events like this reinforce B.C.’s reputation as a first-tier sports host. They also celebrate the achievement of women athletes, encouraging the next generation of young women to get involved and to stay in sport.”

• READ ALSO: Pitcher’s comeback highlights Canada Cup for longtime tournament chair

Event organizers expect the week-long tournament to have an economic impact of $10 million for B.C., a news release notes.

Greg Timm, chair of the Americas qualifier organizing committee, told Peace Arch News Wednesday that the cost of hosting the qualifier will be “just short of $1 million,” and that – with 39 days to go – around half of that has been raised so far.

He described the provincial injection as “one of the most important components.”

In addition to Canada, other countries set to take part in the qualifier are Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, British Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic. Despite being in the ‘Americas’ region, the United States will not compete, as they have already qualified for the Olympic Games as a result of winning last summer’s world championship. Japan, as the host nation, have also already qualified for the six-team 2020 tournament.

“The dedication shown by the provincial government, for youth and amateur sport is inspiring,” Timm said in a news release issued following Wednesday’s event.

“The committee, our volunteers and the players are incredibly grateful that the government has stepped up to the plate and provided an opportunity for Canada’s national team to host the Olympic qualifier on home soil.”

Canada is currently ranked No. 3 in women’s softball world rankings, behind only the U.S. and Japan.

Timm’s organizing committee is a not-for-profit group, and last month was still in need of local sponsors to help fund the event, which was awarded to the City of Surrey in late January.

Timm told PAN earlier this week that a number of businesses had since expressed interest in sponsorship opportunities.

Team Canada pitcher Danielle Lawrie – a former White Rock Renegades star – was also on hand at this week’s funding announcement, and expressed excitement at the prospect of playing next month’s tournament in front of hometown fans.

“There is no greater honour than playing for your country, and the qualifier is going to be pivotal in fulfilling that dream,” said Lawrie, who is one of just three national team holdovers from the team that competed at the 2008 Olympics, which was the last time the sport was part of the Games.

Lawrie said she came out of retirement to “try to make another Olympic run.”

“I think for me, it was coming up short, kinda like a salty taste left in my mouth of how that (2008) Olympic journey went and how we were so close to winning a medal, and it just slipped through our fingertips,” she told media.

“This is a team that I think we have a very, very strong chance of qualifying when we get to August.”

– with files from Tracy Holmes



editorial@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Council votes to give Chilliwack homeless shelter an 18-month extension

There were more than 40 passionate speakers at city hall who had their say for more than four hours

Chilliwack woman finds mysterious coin among Grandma’s collection

Grandmother died when she was very young and her past is not well known to her mother

VIDEO: Chilliwack musician is embracing the revival of the accordion

Accordionist Debra Kartz has seen the instrument become popular again and wants to inspire the next generation

Time to specify where Chilliwack spending priorities should be

It’s that time of year again when City of Chilliwack engages its citizens to weigh in on budgeting

Fantasy Farms told to stop holding special events on farmland that go against agricultural rules

The Morans say it might spell the end of their seasonal events like Reapers Haunted Attractions

VIDEO: B.C. man’s yard comes alive with grizzlies at night

Malakwa man has captured images of 12 different grizzlies on video

Man who orchestrated Mission murders gets day parole after serving less than three years

Victims’ parents express grief, outrage over parole board decision

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

Most Read