Inductees

From left, Daphne Richard (builder), Patti Buna (representing her daughter, Robyn), Roger Lafontaine (builder), Bren Witt (representing Duncan McNaughton), Tania Jones (athlete) and Cliff Serwa (representing granddaughter Kelsey) pose at the Central Okanagan Heritage Museum on Tuesday morning to announce the Sports Hall of Fame inductees for 2019.

Bren Witt was watching the 2016 Rio Olympics when a familiar name appeared on the television screen.

Derek Drouin had just won high jump gold for Canada, and the announcers proclaimed history had been made. Not since 1932, when Kelowna’s own Duncan McNaughton leaped 1.97 metres, had a Canadian won the Olympic gold in high jump.

It got Witt to thinking.

He knew McNaughton’s family in Kelowna and decided not enough people were talking about the man who was not only an Olympic champion, but a Second World War pilot, professor and captain of the petroleum industry.

It led Witt to nominate McNaughton for induction into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame, which became official on Tuesday morning.

McNaughton is being honoured posthumously; he died in 1998 at age 87. His grandson, Ryan, said it would have meant a great deal to his grandfather.

“He would be so thrilled to receive this honour, especially in his hometown,” Ryan said in a pre-recorded video message played Tuesday morning.

Also to be inducted in a November ceremony are Olympic champion skier Kelsey Serwa, basketball star Robyn Buna, marathon runner Tania Jones, builder Roger Lafontaine and builder Daphne Richard.

Unlike McNaughton, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know Serwa’s name in Kelowna.

She improved on her ski-cross silver medal from the Sochi Games in 2014 with a gold four years later in South Korea. She’s also the 2011 world champion who has eight World Cup gold medals.

She was unable to attend the ceremony on Tuesday but sent a video greeting thanking her family, many coaches and supporters.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of this community,” she said.

Robyn Buna’s mother, Patti, was there to accept the nomination on her daughter’s behalf. She talked of watching her daughter get cut from the under-16 provincial team and getting passed over by university coaches because she was “too small.” It only served as motivation for a woman who eventually won three Canadian university women’s basketball championships with Simon Fraser University.

She was a championship MVP and national player of the year, among many other all-star awards.

Buna is now a doctor on the verge of completing her pediatrics residency at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

She still plays ball, her mom said.

“She’s just a really awesome person,” Patti said with a laugh.

Jones got her start running “in the hills of Oyama many years ago.” She was a high school and university champion who eventually represented her country at the 2001 World Track and Field Championships.

Richard is the first equestrian athlete to be inducted into the Central Okanagan Hall of Fame.

Known as the “grand dame” of endurance riding, Richard won a bronze medal at the 2003 Pan American Games and finished fourth at the 2005 World Championship.

She’s also the president and director of several provincial and national riding associations.

Lafontaine’s experience as a basketball player who grew up in Armstrong in the 1950s shaped his outlook on sport.

Eventually moving into officiating, coaching and organization, he was a founding member of the Okanagan Track and Field Club who was also involved in soccer and field hockey.

He said, however, that his proudest accomplishment might be that his son and grandson are both accomplished basketball referees.

Tickets for the November induction ceremony are to go on sale this October.

Recommended for you