Five Fort McMurray firefighters have returned home with medals and strong showings from the 2023 World Police and Firefighter Games in Winnipeg.
Battalion Chief Ryan Pitchers won two silver medals in large-bore rifle shooting. Captain Dave Maki won silver in pole vault and sixth in 100-metre run. Kyrianne Mills won two bronze medals in bowling. Captain Mark Howdle finished fourth in golf. Senior Firefighter Jordon Hall had two fourth place finishes, two fifth place finishes and a sixth place finish in different swimming events.
From July 28 to August 6, the five athletes competed alongside more than 8,500 other athletes representing firefighting, law enforcement and policing. Participants came from more than 50 countries to compete in more than 60 sports.
Pitchers said he was surprised at how well he shot. He had only shot in one other shooting competition hosted by the Fort McMurray Legion at the Fort McMurray Fish and Game Association. Pitchers—who also served as an infantry soldier with 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI)—was hooked on the experience and wanted to enter more competitions.
When a signup for the games were announced, Pitchers jumped at the chance to shoot competitively alongside his peers.
“It was a lot of fun and very well done,” said Pitchers in an interview. “Everybody did really well. It was a very, very, very good showing for our first games.”
Maki last competed in a fire games in 2002 and did not know how well he would do in Winnipeg. He is also happy with his performance. Meeting colleagues from around the world was also an interesting experience, he said. His pole vault category had athletes from countries like Malaysia, the U.S., India. The gold-medal winner in his pole vault event was a former Olympian for Greece.
“It was a pretty good group of guys and everybody was pretty like-minded,” said Maki. “Competitive, too. But also cheerful and fun.”
The next games are in Birmingham, Alabama in 2025. Regional Emergency Services (RES) is hoping to put together a larger team for the event. The municipality was not asked for support ahead of the Winnipeg games. However, that might change if enough firefighters sign up for the 2025 team.
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