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Oke already thinking about another major curling event for city

Gary Oke plans on resting his weary bones for a few days, but he’s already determined to bring another major curling event to Corner Brook.

Gary Oke, co-chair of the host committee, applauds during the closing of the junior curling championships Sunday at the Pepsi Centre. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

Oke has worked long hours for weeks on end as co-chair of the host committee for the 2015 M & M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships that came to a close Sunday night with Manitoba winning the junior men’s crown in an exciting 8-6 win over Saskatchewan.

Oke, along with co-chair Susan Curtis, and over 250 volunteers from all walks of life, had praised heaped on them from everybody to Canadian Curling Association officials to young curlers from all over Canada for a week where the welcome mat was put out for what was a first venture to the province for many of the participants.

“Corner Brook, you have raised the bar,” Marilyn Neily, chair of the board of governors for the Canadian Curling Association, said Sunday night before declaring the 2015 championships closed.

Oke was busy Monday driving Neily to the Deer Lake airport to ensure she was on time for her flight back home. He vowed he was going to get a good night’s sleep when he had to deal with a few things in his capacity as one of the driving forces of bringing the national event to Corner Brook.

It’s a venture that took up a lot of his time, but he has no regrets.

He said it was a great experience because no matter where he went all week he was met with smiling faces, whether it was a parent or an athlete just soaking up the experience of being in the national spotlight and competing against the best athletes with a shared passion.

“I was overjoyed to be honest,” Oke said. “Just speaking with the kids and the coaches on a daily basis, and getting all the positive feedback from everybody ... that had to make our committee feel extremely good.”

Neily, on Monday, said the feedback she received from everybody during her stay in the city left her no doubt that the event was a huge success and everybody felt at home because of the hospitality shown.

She admits there’s never really any negative feedback from any of the CCA events, but the effort put forth by those responsible for the event was impressive.

“Everything was glowing and positive,” she said. “We wouldn’t expect anything less out of Newfoundland, but everything was top-notch.”

Corner Brook has shown an ability to stage major sporting events for the past 20 years or more.

Maybe another big curling event down the road?

If he has his way, that’s affirmative.

Oke isn’t about to rest on his laurels. He’s not afraid to think big so he’s hoping to bring a major event, such as the Scotties national women’s curling championship or even a world junior championship event, to the city down the road.

“I have other expectations that I’m aiming for,” he said. “We’d like to have a little larger event if we could and I think we deserve to have one.”

Those smiling faces around the curling venues all week tell him he should forge ahead.

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