Heather Boyd learned what true sporting brotherhood looked like while standing at the poolside in Truro.
She was one of hundreds of volunteers at last year’s Down Syndrome World Swimming Championships (DSWSC) who watched athletes from across the globe cheer each other on, regardless of their nationality.
“I start to well up just thinking back to it,” said Boyd. “It was so heartwarming.”
Boyd, along with other volunteers and staff members, worked around the clock at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre (RECC) to make the swimming championships successful.
Last week, both the RECC and the greater Truro/Colchester County community were honoured with two prestigious awards from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) during its 13th annual event in Ottawa.
Not only did the RECC receive the CSTA Sport Event Legacy of the Year Award for hosting the DSWSC, but it also gave Truro/Colchester area the distinction of scoring very high in the release of the Global Sport Impact Canada Index (12th out of 59 Cities under a population of 50,000).
Boyd and her fellow shuttle bus drivers ferried both athletes and their families between hotels and the REEC during the tournament. She also coordinated other drivers who took visitors to local attractions such as the tidal bore and a local maple syrup operation.
With teams from all over the world, there was sometimes a language barrier and translators were not always on hand but Boyd said they ultimately found a way to communicate.
“The language of love is universal,” she said, “hugs and high-fives were plentiful.”
For Boyd, who also served as the transportation lead during the tourney, the CSTA award was a welcome surprise for herself and fellow volunteers.
“Even the nomination was itself an honour,” she said. “I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”
Moore added he was pleased to see athletes and sporting rivals from other countries come together in friendship.
“Everyone was there for the right reasons, it’s to bring communities together through the values of sport,” he said Moore.
Moore also credited the success of Truro swimmer Matthew Hunter, and the international attention he has garnered, as one of the primary reasons for the Down Syndrome swimming competitions coming to Truro. Hunter competed with team Canada and earned some personal bests during tourney. He also accompanied Moore to Ottawa for last week’s awards.
“Matthew Hunter is a legacy in himself … he had pursued swimming to a level that allowed him to travel all around the world and this was a chance for him to bring the world to Truro,” Moore said. “Without Matthew’s perseverance and dedication to that sport, nobody would have really known that World Down Syndrome Swimming was a possibility for us.”