February 11, 2011
By ROB VANSTONE, Leader-Post February 10, 2011
REGINA — Curtis Graves will celebrate his 18th birthday in fine style Friday.
Graves, a Saskatoon gymnast, will be Team Saskatchewan's flagbearer at the Canada Winter Games' opening ceremonies in Halifax.
"I'm not really nervous. I'm more excited,'' Graves said Thursday night, less than an hour after receiving the news that he would carry the flag.
"I've heard it's on TV, so I'm looking forward to being on TV. I've already told everyone in my family to watch it.''
TSN2 is to carry the opening ceremonies for two hours, beginning Friday at 5 p.m.
"It's a tremendous honour for me to carry the flag and to represent Saskatchewan and all of the sports at the Canada Games,'' said Graves, who also competed at the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon.
"It is amazing that I was chosen out of all the great athletes who have come to the Games in their chosen sports. For me to be chosen, it's just awesome.''
Graves' selection provides some continuity, in that another Saskatoon gymnast — Jayd Lukenchuk — was the flagbearer at the closing ceremonies in 2007. Lukenchuk led Saskatchewan with five medals (two gold, two silver and one bronze) in Whitehorse.
"I look up to him as a role model,'' said Graves, who trains with Lukenchuk at the Taiso Gymnastics Club in Saskatoon.
Graves is perceived in a similar light by this year's contingent of athletes, which explains why he was named the flagbearer. He received the news from Saskatchewan's chef de mission, Lorne Lasuita.
"As soon as we got to the hotel, they pulled me aside and told me,'' Graves said. "I'm just trying to take it all in. I was shocked and surprised.''
Graves is the defending national junior men's champion on the high bars. He hopes to add to his list of accomplishments when the Games' gymnastics meet begins Sunday at the Canada Games Centre. The Games' gymnastics component wraps up on Thursday.
"I'm getting more excited about the opening ceremonies and the competition,'' Graves said. "It's going to be a fun week and I'm looking forward to it.''
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