White Rock’s Ryan Sommer (second from left) and other members of the four-man bobsled team with Olympic bronze medals in Beijing, including Justin Kripps, Cam Stones and Ben Coakwell. (Photo: Facebook.com/BobsleighCanadaSkeleton)

White Rock’s Ryan Sommer (second from left) and other members of the four-man bobsled team with Olympic bronze medals in Beijing, including Justin Kripps, Cam Stones and Ben Coakwell. (Photo: Facebook.com/BobsleighCanadaSkeleton)

2022 IN REVIEW: The most compelling Surrey sports stories of the year

Olympic medals, broken records, winning teams, big-league plays, documentary movies and more

• Surrey teen Gaurav Dhanoa powerlifted his way to national records. The 17-year-old broke 12 powerlifting records in two age classes at a Canadian Powerlifting League competition in Nanton, Alberta, in August. “His numbers rival those of adult lifters,” raved Pavi Toor, who runs Young Guns Weightlifting Club.

• After two years of no water shows, Surrey’s BC Aquasonics finally got to perform in the Fleetwood pool where they train. In June, dozens of young members of the artistic swimming club showed their skills in a season-ending showcase at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex. “Honestly, it brings tears to my eyes to see them all (the athletes) on the pool deck again,” club president Anthea Cranston said as she watched an hour of routines, performed to music.

• Surrey’s “SAP Alien” didn’t win the 2022 NHL Gaming World Championship in Montreal, but the trip proved to be a hockey-filled fantasy for him. In July, Edward Nicol-McCabe lost in the quarter-finals of the EA Sports game competition, meaning a top-eight finish among “NHL” gamers in North America. The Whalley-area resident, known as SAP Alien on the competitive gaming scene, was hoping to score the contest’s $26,000 grand prize, but didn’t. The gamers were invited to witness the NHL Entry Draft in person at the Bell Centre. “That was a hectic first round, and something I’ll never ever forget,” Nicol-McCabe tweeted from his SAP_Alien account.

• At the Winter Olympics, White Rock’s Ryan Sommer became a bronze-medal bobsledder after reaching the podium in Beijing with Canada’s four-man team. The Elgin Park Secondary graduate, 28, earned his first Olympic medal with three teammates on Feb. 20, the final day of the Games. Sommer celebrated with his bride-to-be, women’s hockey gold-medallist Blayre Turnbull. After three months apart, the couple reunited during the Games’ opening ceremony and posed for photos.

• In Kentucky last January, Surrey’s Praise Aniamaka soared to a Canadian record in triple jump. The Pacific Academy graduate, now with the Purdue track & field team in Indiana, jumped 15.89 metres, breaking the U20 Canadian Triple Jump record of 15.78m set by Patrick Hanna six years previous.

• Somehow, the Surrey-based Lower Mainland Synchronized Skating Club actually grew during the pandemic, which created some challenges when it comes to competitions. The club expanded to include six teams in recent years, head coach Danalee Harrison boasted.

Jonathan Kongbo finally got his shot in the NFL on a Thursday night in October. The Surrey-raised outside linebacker was activated by Denver Broncos ahead of their prime-time home game against Indianapolis Colts. The Broncos lost 12-9 in overtime, but Kongbo scored a personal goal of making his NFL debut five games into Denver’s season. Kongbo, 26, was in the lineup due to mounting pass-rush injuries for the Broncos.

• Surrey is now home to Metro Vancouver’s first futsal-specific facility, according to the operator of the new Pacific Futsal. The soccer-like indoor game is played on a synthetic-plastic surface imported to a Kennedy-area warehouse by Alex Herrera, who runs the 4,800-square-foot sports centre, which boasts FIFA-approved tile for futsal, called “the little brother of soccer, with lots of ball touching and quick decisions by the players,” Herrera said.

Last spring, Surrey-raised hockey player Arshdeep Bains tweeted with a photo of him signing with Vancouver Canucks. “It’s a dream come true.” Bains currently plays with the “farm” team, Abbotsford Canucks. (Photo: twitter.com/20_bains)

Last spring, Surrey-raised hockey player Arshdeep Bains tweeted with a photo of him signing with Vancouver Canucks. “It’s a dream come true.” Bains currently plays with the “farm” team, Abbotsford Canucks. (Photo: twitter.com/20_bains)

• In March, Vancouver Canucks signed Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains to an entry-level contract while he still skated with Red Deer Rebels. As he skated his way from junior hockey to pro (currently with Abbotsford Canucks), a film crew followed Bains’ progress as one of the WHL’s leading scorers, for a new movie focused on South Asian hockey players. The former Surrey Minor Hockey player is among four main characters being filmed for a forthcoming documentary called “Out of the Stands,” co-directed and produced by Baljit Sangra and Nilesh Patel.

• In early February, high school athletes in Surrey and the rest of B.C. could again play in sports tournaments, thanks to updated pandemic guidelines from the Ministry of Education. The decision was timely for the Surrey RCMP Classic, which got going after a month-long delay to the start of the all-Surrey boys basketball tournament. “I’m pleased it got the go-ahead, because it was very frustrating,” said tournament organizer Rick Inrig. “The fact that other community sports could go ahead with tournaments, but they held back the school program, I felt that was ridiculous. There was no common sense to that decision whatsoever.”

• At Tamanawis Secondary, the school wrestling team became a provincial powerhouse with the help of brothers who returned to coach student-athletes there. Led by Jessy Sahota and Paul (“Pola”) Sahota, along with Shaan Randhawa and others, the Newton school’s male team won three straight B.C. banners. “Tamanawis has never won a provincial title in anything before, and this is the third year the boys have won provincials,” beamed Jessy. “We’re very proud.”

The girls basketball program at Surrey’s Holy Cross school looks to be in good shape for years to come, judging by last season’s Grade 8 team, which was nearly perfect on its way to a provincial championship. They were the first team in Holy Cross history to win the Surrey, South Fraser and B.C. banners in one season, according to head coach Amy Beauchamp. “It’s a pretty good group, for sure,” said the proud coach. “All of the girls are dual-sport athletes.”

• At Sullivan Heights Park in mid-March, Masters-aged rugby players showed solidarity with their embattled Ukrainian brothers and sisters. Members of Cascadia Masters Rugby Union clubs posed for a photo with a Canadian flag and a special blue-and-yellow banner, created in reaction to a photo posted to social media of Giorgi Dzhangirian, the 83-year-old former president of Ukrainian Rugby Union, “defending his country” while wearing battle fatigues and standing behind a wall of concrete and sandbags.

Poster for the documentary movie “Press Breaker,” focused on the basketball life of Surrey-raised athlete Harleen Sidhu.

Poster for the documentary movie “Press Breaker,” focused on the basketball life of Surrey-raised athlete Harleen Sidhu.

• A 2021 movie documents how Harleen Sidhu, from humble beginnings in Surrey, grew up to make basketball history in the U.S. “Press Breaker” tells the story of Sidhu and her journey to became the first South Asian Canadian woman to play NCAA Division 1 basketball, and also the first Punjabi woman in the league. Now a nurse, Sidhu and husband Manny Dulay coach a Tamanawis Secondary team and run the XV Training Academy.

• Prior to the start of the 2022 CFL season, BC Lions launched a program that teaches both football and life skills to Indigenous teens in Metro Vancouver. At Frank Hurt Secondary, Andrew Peirson, David Knevel and Matt Guevremont led more than a dozen students through a warm-up before teaching throwing and catching skills, flag-football style.

• B.C.’s junior hockey world mourned Wayne Hubbard, longtime trainer for several teams in the province. Known as “Wayner the Trainer,” Hubbard died April 19 while in hospice care following a two-year battle with leukemia. A Surrey resident, Hubbard retired from hockey in February 2020 at age 73, after five decades of sharpening skates, bandaging wounds and otherwise caring for teen hockey players and their equipment. “I figure I’ve done around 30,000 loads of laundry, all those jerseys and socks,” he said with a laugh in 2020.

• Two Surrey teams were top-3 finishers at B.C. high school ultimate provincials, played at Newton Athletic Park from May 26-29. Surrey Christian’s senior team placed second in the AA division, and Guildford Park Sabres earned bronze in AAA play.

• In July, Ronin Sharma’s friends and teammates played in a hockey tournament dedicated to the Surrey teen, killed the prevoius August, along with pals Parker Magnuson and Caleb Reimer, in a car crash in Fraser Heights. At Surrey Sport & Leisure Centre, the 17-team memorial tourney attracted top junior-level players from various leagues, along with adults.

• On home turf, the Whalley All-stars hit a Little Mountain during the B.C. Little League championship game. The seven-team Major Provincials baseball tournament was played at Orest Springenatic Field in Surrey for eight days in July. In the championship game, Whalley fell 11-1 to the Vancouver West Side reps from Little Mountain, who earned a trip to the Canadian nationals and, ultimately, the Little League World Series.

Jeremy Kennedy, the Surrey-raised MMA featherweight, looked to rise up the Bellator promotion ranks with a win over one tough opponent. On Oct. 1, he was up against higher-ranked featherweight Aaron Pico at the Bellator 286 event at Long Beach Arena in southern California, and won the fight by TKO after the opening round, when Pico’s left shoulder popped out of the socket.

• It was a golden year for Surrey’s Amar Dhesi, who wrestled for first place at both the 2022 Commonwealth Games in England and Pan-American Wrestling Championships in Mexico. In the 125KG class, he’s now among the world’s top freestyle wrestlers, after placing fifth at the Senior World Championships in Serbia and holding his own at the COVID-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics last year. Bouyed by recent international results on the mat, Dhesi plans to return to the Olympics two years from now, and wants to be a police officer one day.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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