// Cindy Ficorelli //
Since 1958, some 700,000 athletes from Genesee County and Hamilton, Ontario, have participated in the international CANUSA games, one of the longest running events in North American history.
This year, thousands more will come together to compete in the Greater Flint Olympian Games, which is another record-breaking tradition – 2018 marks its 62nd anniversary. Athletes of all ages will have an opportunity to participate in 19 different events that will take place in Genesee County. These include archery, basketball, bowling, darts, ice hockey, pickleball, skeet, soccer, softball, swimming, volleyball, weight lifting and more. Kids and adults of all ages – from 4 to 84 and beyond – are invited to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The Olympic games offer so much for our area kids,” reports Sean Croudy, who has served as cochair of the event for 12 years. “Any resident of Genesee County is eligible to compete. Basketball alone draws more than 500 kids.”
“Through the years, we’ve added competitions that attract older adults, and we welcome everyone of every age. The youngest competitor is 4 years old,” he notes. “We will find a spot for every single person who wants to be part of this grand tradition.”
Croudy finds the friendly competition, lifelong friendships and lasting memories are what bring so many to the games. That’s why the event’s motto is “Experience the Friendship.”
“Even teams and individuals outside our county have joined the games. They want to be part of international history. It really is an exciting experience,” he notes. “The games offer so much for our area kids. It’s an opportunity to stay healthy, learn countless life skills, build self-esteem, meet new friends, have some friendly competition and leave with so many fantastic memories. Many of the kids who participate in the CANUSA games remain friends with the athletes they meet. The learning experiences are endless, and of course, the games are a lot of fun.
“I believe Flint is the only city left in the entire country to participate in international games now,” Croudy says.
Croudy goes on to note that many professional athletes competed in the Greater Flint Olympian and CANUSA Games. Glen Rice, Morris Peterson Jr., Jim Abbott and Rick Leach are just a handful.
“You don’t have to be a star athlete to participate,” Croudy points out. “We welcome every single individual who wants to play, and we find a team for every single person.”
Similar to the Olympics, the top teams or individuals in their sport qualify to compete in the CANUSA games. This year, the event will take place August 10-12 in Hamilton, Ontario. The games rotate between the cities each year. In 2019, Flint will serve as the host city.
“This is another once-in-a-lifetime experience for our athletes,” Croudy explains. “The kids will stay in the home of a Canadian athlete and really get to see what life is like in another country.” Part of this international relationship involves an opening ceremony where the mayor of the host city presents the Friendship Trophy to the mayor of the visiting city as a representation of peace, brotherhood and true friendship.
And this year, Croudy is proud to announce that the Crim Fitness Foundation has joined as a partner. “It takes dozens of individuals and hundreds of hours to make this event happen,” he adds. “We begin planning for the next year as soon as we wrap up our current season.”
Sean Croudy, Chris Daily and Mike Maienbrook serve as this year’s chairmen.
For more information on the Greater Flint Olympian and CANUSA Games, call 810-760-5252.