Special Olympians ready for Corner Brook games
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.