Two St. Albertans have smashed their way to medals at the Alberta racquetball provincial championships.
“It was our first tournament in a couple of years because of COVID. Needless to say, we were all very anxious and excited to start competing again,” said Cam Bourque, who won gold in the 60-plus division.
The Alberta provincial championships for racquetball was held April 1-3 in Sherwood Park at the Glen Allen Recreation Complex.
Al Bowman won silver in the Open Elite division. Bowman lost to Calgarian Hector Avila Prado, who won gold in that division.
Bourque, an Oilers fan, won against Calgary's Robert Popowich, which Bourque said made the win even better as Popowich is a fan of the Calgary Flames.
The matches were best out of five. Popowich won one game and Bourque won three.
“I’ve won a couple of national championships and many provincials, but this one meant a lot because it was 60-plus division,” he said.
It was Bourque’s first time playing in the 60-plus division.
Bourque won all the matches he played in the tournament. He said it was competitive, but also not because he is a young 60-plus.
“I’m still maybe more agile than my competition. I haven't got the knee problems or the hip problems or the eyesight problems quite yet, like some of the competitors in the 60-plus, but — touch wood — I'm still good so far,” said Bourque.
Bourque said he was tired after provincials because it was the first tournament in two years. He said they weren’t able to train for around seven months when COVID restrictions were in place.
“We all got fat and out of shape because generally, my sport being racquetball, I play three times a week. It keeps me [in] relatively good shape. But then you're off and all of a sudden,” Bourque paused. “It was a little tough getting back into it, for sure.”
Bourque has played racquetball for more than 30 years. He started in the sport when he was introduced to it by a friend while living in Prince Albert, Sask..
“I had a friend that was a Prince Albert Raider at the time, and we used to have to play them. So, that was their off-season curriculum because it was such a good sport for hockey players' eye-hand co-ordination,” he said.
Bourque said racquetball is considered one of the fastest sports because the balls travel over 240 km/h.
“It's really good for reflex — training your reflex and keeping your eyes sharp. And it is a physically demanding sport. So that's why, back in the day, we used to play like guys [who are] in the NHL now,” he said
Bourque got involved because he knew some hockey players. They then started their own leagues, and it went from there.
“I got the bug ever since,” he said.
Bourque is back in the swing of tournaments. He said he’s got a tournament in Ponoka, two doubles tournaments coming up, and possible a western Canadian tournament, too. Nationals might also be on the roster for Bourque.