Huge haul for Special Olympians
Athletes win 12 medals at Winter Games in Corner Brook
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.