A Township of Langley firefighter has returned from the 2023 World Police and Fire Games in Winnipeg with three medals, two gold and one silver.
Beau Parker won gold playing men’s rugby sevens and men’s singles pickleball, and also picked up a silver in men’s doubles pickleball at the Games, which ran from July 28 to Aug. 6.
Parker, 32, a former Canadian sevens and University of Victoria rugby player, said most of the players on the gold-medal roster were former national team members, like him.
”A lot of players that I previously played national team rugby with, so it was an awesome reunion to see some of those guys again, and get on the pitch with them,” Parker told the Langley Advance Times.
“Canadian Classics” as the team was named, defeated “Italian Fire” 16-0 in the gold medal round.
Parker took up pickleball for fun a couple of year ago, and decided to try his luck at the games in his new sport.
After winning gold in the pickleball men’s single 30-plus category, he didn’t have a partner for doubles, so he ended up playing alongside the Toronto Police officer he’d just defeated in the pickleball singles gold medal match, Stephen Liu.
“We had zero [time to] practice, pretty much just getting right into into the game,” Parker remarked.
Liu and Parker still ended up taking silver after a “tough final against a couple guys from Vancouver Fire, who had played in tournaments before together,” Parker said.
“It’s kind of cool to have fire and police paired up like that, and able to work together,” Parker reflected.
“It’s something we do on the job all the time.”
It was his first world police and fire games, but it probably won’t be the last.
Parker is thinking about competing in the next one, in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2025.
At the Winnipeg games, Canada took first with 600 medals – 240 gold, 207 silver and 153 bronze, while the
U.S.A. was a close second with 559 and Brazil was third with 250.
Held biennially, the World Police and Fire Games is an Olympic-style competition with more than 8,500 athletes representing law enforcement, firefighters, and police officers from more than 50 countries across the world. Athletes compete in more than 60 unique sports.
It started out as the California Police Olympics in 1967, which led to the creation of the World Police & Fire Games Federation—a non-profit organization, run by the Californian Police Athletics Federation in 1983.
In 1985, the first World Police and Fire Games were held in San Jose, California, with nearly 5,000 competitors.
Several Canadian cities have hosted the games over the years, including Calgary, Quebec City and Vancouver, which served as the games venue twice, in 1989 and 2009.