July 5, 2018 8:52 pm

49th annual Southern Alberta Summer Games get underway in Taber

WATCH ABOVE: The Southern Alberta Summer Games formally kicked off in Taber Wednesday evening ahead of four days of intense sporting competition. As Malika Karim reports, the 2018 athletes received some encouragement from a special guest.

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The 49th Southern Alberta Summer Games are officially underway in the town of Taber.

Opening ceremonies took place on Wednesday night, welcoming more than 2,400 athletes

For one family, the enthusiasm has been passed down between mother and daughter.

READ MORE: Bronze medallist Ashley Steacy shares her Olympic experience


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“She’s been participating in the games for many years,” said Tracey Avery about her mother. “And I thought, if she can do it, certainly I can try.”

The duo are both participating this year in throwing events.

“I’m in shot put, discus and javelin,” said Mary-Ann Westgard.

During the ceremonies, a special guest with southern Alberta roots took to the stage.

“Taber holds a special place in my heart,” Olympic Bronze medalist Ashley Steacy said to the crowd.

READ MORE: Organizers for Alberta Summer Games need more volunteers

Steacy spoke to athletes, giving potential future Olympians some advice.

“If you’re not willing to put in that work day in and day out, then I don’t think you’re ever really going to reach that top level and be the best athlete that you can be,” Steacy said. “So I think that’s a great message for them to hear, to get to that next level.”

The Team Canada rugby sevens player also gave some of the athletes an up-close look at her coveted bronze medal.

Participants of all ages have travelled from across southern Alberta to compete in 23 sports.

Organizers say the event wouldn’t be possible without the countless hours from volunteers.

“They really are the backbone of the Games and they have been giving of their time for the last 6 months,” said Southern Alberta Recreation Association co-chair Aline Holmen. “Numerous meetings, numerous phone calls, lots of planning. We couldn’t do it without them and we’re so thankful and grateful to have them.”

This is the fifth time Taber has played host to the games since they began in 1970.

The Southern Alberta Summer Games run until Sunday, and a full listing of events can be found online.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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