Huge haul for Spe­cial Olympians

Ath­letes win 12 medals at Win­ter Games in Cor­ner Brook

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON

Justin Mur­phy was all smiles af­ter re­turn­ing from Cor­ner Brook with the Tri-Con Spe­cial Olympics club. The medals draped around his neck played a part, but they were not the sole rea­son he was pleased with his Win­ter Games ex­pe­ri­ence.

“ Just hav­ing fun,” he said, suc­cinctly sum­ming up the ex­pe­ri­ence of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the games.

Mur­phy was one of 12 lo­cal ath­letes who took part in the 2011 Spe­cial Olympics New­found­land and Labrador Win­ter Games, held in Cor­ner Brook Feb. 18-20. The group had a heavy load of medals to take back from the games — 29 in all, in­clud­ing 10 gold medals. Shawn Daw­son led the way for the Tri-Con club with three gold medals.

“ We had an awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Mary Butt, one of the coaches for the team.

The medals came in snow­shoe­ing events, which the team had been train­ing for at the track and f ield com­plex in Car­bon­ear through­out the win­ter.

Mur­phy earned a gold medal for the 100-me­tre race, sil­ver in the 200m event, and a bronze in the 400-m race. The re­sults met his ex­pec­ta­tions.

“I had ev­ery­thing planned,” said Mur­phy, adding the 400-m race is not an easy one to com­pete in given the ex­tra dis­tance in­volved.

While he has com­peted in Spe­cial Olympics events be­fore, it was his first time trav­el­ling to Cor­ner Brook. Mur­phy said the drive was a long one.

The medal count for the team proves there were some strong per­form­ers rep­re­sent­ing the re­gion, yet Butt said the team never lost sight of the fun side of the games. “ They just love it,” she said. Dur­ing the snow­shoe races, she was po­si­tioned at the fin­ish line, and she cheered on ath­letes from all teams. The ex­pe­ri­ence put a strain on her vo­cal chords, which were still in re cov er y mode when she dropped by The Com­pass of­fice in Car­bon­ear last Wed­nes­day.

“I saw ev­ery ath­lete from ev­ery club come across the fin­ish line, and I can hon­estly say it was all for one and one for all. It wasn’t just for Tri­Con. Who­ever was in that race, ev­ery­body was there for ev­ery­body to get them around the track ... I had more tears in my eyes than you could pos­si­bly imag­ine.”

The open­ing cer­e­monies were a high­light for Mur­phy, as was the dance held for ath­letes. He said it was “the best kind,” and with good mu­sic play­ing, there were plenty of peo­ple ready to dance.

The pro­vin­cial win­ter games serve as a qual­i­fy­ing event for the 2012 Spe­cial Olympics Canada Win­ter Games in St. Al­bert, Alta. Butt said there is a chance mem­bers of the Tri-Con team will get to travel to the games in Al­berta, but as of last week she was wait­ing to hear back from of­fi­cials in St. John’s about who will make the pro­vin­cial squad.

Tri-Con Spe­cial Olympics next event will be a swim meet to be hosted by the club in April, though the date is de­pen­dent on when the Car­bon­ear swim­ming pool re­opens.

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