Spe­cial Olympians ready for Cor­ner Brook games

The Compass - - PORTHTE - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON

A group of 12 ath­letes from the Tri-Con Spe­cial Olympics club will strive to do its best at the pro­vin­cial 2011 Spe­cial Olympics Win­ter Games, hap­pen­ing in Cor­ner Brook Feb. 18-20.

The Tri-Con team, made up of mem­bers ages 10 and up, will com­pete in a va­ri­ety of snow­shoe­ing events, which it has been train­ing for since snow be­gan to fall on the re­gion in De­cem­ber. It marks the team’s sixth time com­pet­ing in snow­shoe­ing since 2006, when the games were hosted in Car­bon­ear.

Ath­letes from the team will com­pete in dis­tance races rang­ing from 100 me­tres to 1,600 me­tres, ac­count­ing for four laps of a stan­dard 400-me­tre track. Each com­peti­tor can take part in a max­i­mum of three races.

The team has been prac­tic­ing three times a week at the track in Car­bon­ear. Mem­bers have also been get­ting ex­er­cise through swim­ming and bowl­ing, though swim­ming is now on hia­tus with the tem­po­rary clo­sure of the Car­bon­ear swim­ming pool.

Diane Daw­son, one of the vol­un­teers with Tri-Con Spe­cial Olympics, says the games are a great so­cial ex­pe­ri­ence for team mem­bers, many of whom have al­ready formed friend­ships with com­peti­tors from pre­vi­ous games. Amongst non-sport ac­tiv­i­ties, she says the ath­letes will look for­ward to the dance at the games.

While it is a com­pet­i­tive at­mos­phere, Daw­son says the Tri-Con team has a re­mark­able sense of fair play.

“If they’re snow­shoe­ing and some­body from an­other team falls down, they’ll stop, help them up, and then keep go­ing,” she says.

“ That’s the way they are,” adds Gina King, an­other vol­un­teer with the team. “A lot of times they’ll run, look back, and wait un­til some­body catches up to them, and then they’ll keep go­ing again. It’s price­less.”

Aside from of­fer­ing a chance to so­cial­ize and have fun com­pet­ing, the games will serve as a qual­i­fy­ing event for the 2012 Spe­cial Olympics Canada Win­ter Games in St. Al­bert, Alta.

Both Daw­son and King agree there is a strong pos­si­bil­ity mem­bers of the Tri-Con team could qual­ify for the 2012 games. Two mem­bers of the team, Shawn Daw­son and Crys­tal Young, com­peted at the sum­mer games last year in On­tario.

“ They’re loyal to their prac­tices,” says Diane Daw­son, the mother of Shawn. “And we have good coaches.”

The coach­ing staff for the games in Cor­ner Brook in­cludes Mary Butt, Mike Daw­son, Josh McCann, and Rick Oliver.

Fol­low­ing these games, the next competition for the club will be a swim meet ten­ta­tively set for early April, though it may be de­layed de­pend­ing on whether the Car­bon­ear pool opens on time.

“As soon as that starts up again, we’ll have our swim club back in on Wed­nes­day evenings,” says King.

The pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships for bowl­ing are set for May 28 in Ex­ploits, fol­lowed by the Sum­mer Cham­pi­onships for track and swim­ming in June.

The club is al­ways in­ter­ested in at­tract­ing new ath­letes and vol­un­teers. Those cu­ri­ous can con­tact co­or­di­na­tor Linda Earle at 596-5902.

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