World Champion and Olympic hurdler turned sport broadcaster Perdita Felicien told attendees of the Sport Durham Convergence, “You’re a hurdler, you just don’t know it.”
Working on a book about her life on and off the track, says Perdita, has allowed her to revisit the number of hurdles she and her Mom cleared as she grew up in Oshawa and then Pickering. Perdita says she will never forget the support she received from the Durham community that she is always proud to represent.
“What an honour to share with the community that helped make my dreams possible!” says Perdita. “An absolute joy.”
It was an elementary school teacher, Susan Arthurs, who first noticed Perdita’s potential after she was the only student at her school to earn the Award of Excellence for her Canadian Fitness Test results. Arthurs encouraged Perdita to join the school track and field team the next spring and she was off and running.
After 16 years of competing and broadcasting sport events around the world, Perdita had some valuable perspectives to share on being the best host community. “Make sure your event is athlete centred,” says Perdita. She spoke of the memorable impact of volunteers waving Canadian flags greeting her as she arrived at an airport before competing and finding that her World Championship gold medal had her name and time engraved on its backside.
Other speakers included Cheryl Finn (Director of Sport Tourism for Tourism London and Chair of the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance) and Blair McIntosh (Vice-President, Sport at Special Olympics Canada) through the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance. They shared sport tourism best and worst practices.
The event held at the Tribute Communities Centre featured an interactive panel discussion on Becoming a Winning Sport Event Host Community, with guests Bryan Crawford (Senior Director, Operations at Canada Basketball), Ryan Albright (Senior Coordinator, Games Unit, Sport, Recreation and Community Programs Division at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport), and Kyle Pelly (Executive Director at Ontario Blind Sports Association).
This event is hosted by Sport Durham as a focused opportunity to share, grow partnerships, and collaborate to advance sport tourism in Durham Region.
And Sport Durham has had some wins, according to Lori Talling, Sport Tourism Coordinator. “In the past year, we’ve hosted the Special Olympics Provincial High School Championships, Spartan Race, Canadian High School Ultimate Championships, Filipino Basketball Association of North American Championships, Canadian Collegiate Softball Association National Championship, and Ontario Lacrosse Festival to name but a few of the events held here in Durham Region.”
To find out more about Sport Durham, please visit www.sportdurham.ca. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.