In addition to making memories, young athletes from the 2011 Canada Games are gaining a better understanding of what it takes to compete nationally. On hand at a news conference today, Feb. 24, were current Canada Games athletes Dylan Landry (judo) from Nova Scotia, Colin Adams (boxing) from British Columbia and Alex Starker (alpine skiing) from Alberta. The athletes said their experience in Halifax has helped them to further understand what makes this competition so unique to Canada. “I’ve learned a lot here. Working with different coaches has been really good. They are really supportive and have helped me out a lot, so I have learned how to work with different coaches which is real good,” said Colin. “My dad came to the Canada Games when he was about my age. I really wanted to beat him.” Also in attendance were AthletesCAN Ambassadors, made up of Olympians and Canada Games alumni who passed along advice and inspiration to the 2011 competitors. Gina Kingsbury, a two-time Olympic Champion in women’s hockey, and 2006 Olympic figure skater Craig Buntin, joined 2010 Olympic Silver medalist Mike Robertson (snowboard cross) and Olympians Anna Rice (badminton) and Catherine Roberge (judo), to share their stories. “The presence of AthletesCAN at the Canada Games is unique as it focuses on the leadership development and mentorship of the provincial and territorial athletes,” said Jasmine Northcott, AthletesCAN executive director. “Through a variety of athlete-focused events, our athlete ambassadors are able to guide and support these young athletes through a tough competition and important career decisions and to encourage them to continue on in high performance sport after the Games.” “I’m so pleased to have been asked to attend the 2011 Canada Winter Games as an ambassador for AthletesCAN. This week, I have not only been given the opportunity to see some amazing performances, but I’ve also been able to share some of my experiences at both Canada Games and the Olympics with Canada’s future champions,” said Mr. Buntin. “My story is unique in that I truly underperformed at the Canada Games. That loss, however, fanned the flame that would eventually drive me through the senior ranks and on to the Olympic stage.” “It’s a true honour to be an AthletesCAN Ambassador at these Games,” said Ms. Kingsbury, two-time Olympic Champion. “As an athlete, the Canada Winter Games remains one of my favourite sport experiences. It was the 1995 and 1999 Games that solidified my dream of one day becoming an Olympian and I hope that the 2011 Games will inspire the next generation of athletes to pursue a career in their respective sport as well.” Held every two years, alternating between summer and winter, the Canada Games are a key event in the development of Canada’s young athletes, producing the next generation of national, international, Olympic and Paralympic champions.The lasting legacies of the Games continue to be the catalyst for the growth of sport and recreation across the country. As the voice of Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN ensures an athlete-centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture.