Whistler, province hosting biggest Police and Fire Games ever 

Golf and mountain biking taking place in Whistler

Whistler is just one community that's playing host to the biggest World Police and Fire Games ever.

The Games, currently being hosted in several British Columbia communities including Vancouver, Langley, Surrey and Burnaby, have broken a record this year, drawing a total of 10,577 registered athletes, the most in the Games' 26-year history.

"The news has just confirmed what everyone on this project has known all along," Chad Turpin, Chair of the 2009 Games, said in a news release.

"These Games have been one of the best planned, executed and now, the best subscribed in the history of the event. The people on this team have put more than seven years of their lives into this event and it shows in every detail."

The World Police and Fire Games began in 1985 when the non-profit World Police and Fire Games Federation, run at the time by the California Police Athletics Federation, held the first Games in San Jose, California.

From there the Games have gone on to become a biennial international sporting event with participation from police officers, firefighters, customs and corrections officers taking a break from their details to show their athletic prowess to the world.

The Games hosts over 60 sporting events in 40 venues. Sports include basketball, biathlon, cycling, football, badminton and several more.

This year's registered athletes puts the World Police and Fire Games second in participating athletes to the 2008 Summer Olympics, which attracted just over 11,000 athletes. The 2006 Commonwealth Games attracted about 4,500 athletes.

This year marks the second time that the Games have been held in British Columbia. The first time was in 1989 but the Games have grown markedly since then.

Whistler has an important role to play in the games as its venues play host to events such as golf, mountain biking and downhill cycling. Nicklaus North Golf Course and the Whistler Golf Club have been hosting golf events starting Aug. 4 and they'll be happening at each of those locations until today (Aug. 6), from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pemberton's Big Sky Golf and Country Club has also been hosting golf events since Tuesday.

Whistler also plays a crucial role in hosting cycling events at three separate venues over this week. The Whistler Mountain Bike Park hosted the mountain biking events on Tuesday and Wednesday this week while Spruce Grove Park will serve as a venue for cross country mountain biking on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Events happening at Spruce Grove that day include the men's cross country master races, as well as the senior, grand master and open categories. Women's events will be happening that day too and attendants are advised to check the schedule at the venue itself so that they don't miss their preferred races.

Results haven't yet been posted for the first two days' events but they're likely to be posted soon.

Participation in this year's World Police and Fire Games just slightly eclipses the 2003 Games in Barcelona, which attracted 10,576 police and firefighters.

Attendance at the 2001 Games in Indianapolis was 9,038 and 8,900 at Calgary in 1997.

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