Team Nova Scotia only has a short bus ride to get to the Canada Summer Games — and that should a good thing.
The Games, which kick off on Saturday with the opening ceremonies in Charlottetown, P.E.I., are being hosted east of Ontario for the first time in 24 years.
“We’re certainly going to have lots of support because it’s convenient for family members (to make the trip), and we’re not dealing with changes in time or having to acclimatize after a long flight,” said Nova Scotia’s chef de mission Ron O’Flaherty. “There are some significant advantages.”
Nova Scotia is coming off a couple of memorable showings at the Canada Games. The province won a record 47 medals in 2001 in London, Ont., and fell one shy of that mark — with 15 gold, 15 silver and 16 bronze — in 2005 in Regina.
Also in 2005, Nova Scotia came sixth in flag points, a system that takes into account the results of every athlete, podium or not. Fifth-place Saskatchewan was within striking distance.
“Sometimes you finish out of the medals but you can still contribute to flag points,” O’Flaherty said. “Everybody’s going to be working hard right until the end, and (one event) could be the difference between fifth and sixth.”
Canoe-kayak athletes have historically accounted for a great deal of Nova Scotia’s success at the Games. In 2005, paddlers hauled in 28 of 46 medals and had the team pushing for a top-three finish in the medal standings after the first week.
The paddlers won’t hit the water until Week 2 this time around, but Nova Scotia could find itself pushing for a top-five team finish by the time the Games conclude on Aug. 29.
“I’m looking forward to Nova Scotia being competitive,” O’Flaherty said. “Historically, we’ve done well at the Games and historically we’ve done well on the water. There’s no reason to believe we won’t do well again.”