Al­berta bound Olympians anx­ious to com­pete

Duo of CBN ath­letes to race in snow­shoe events

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

As the Spe­cial Olympics Canada Win­ter Games gets closer, the two ath­letes go­ing from the Trin­i­tyCon­cep­tion re­gion, Crys­tal Young and Amanda Butt, have been find­ing it hard to con­tain their ex­cite­ment.

The two ath­letes are sched­uled to leave Feb. 27 and re­turn March 4.

Each ath­lete made Team New­found­land af­ter ex­cel­lent show­ings at the pro­vin­cial meet in Corner Brook late last year.

Their coach, Rick Oliver, told The Com­pass last week that his charges could some­times lose their fo­cus at prac­tice be­cause of the an­tic­i­pa­tion.

“Ev­ery prac­tice they come up to me and say, ‘only x num­ber of sleeps left.’”

— Coach Rick Oliver

It was be­com­ing harder and harder to keep them on their sched­ule of three days- a- week prac­tices, Oliver ex­plained.

“Ev­ery prac­tice they come up to me and say, ‘only x num­ber of sleeps left,’” he said.

Crys­tal, in par­tic­u­lar, is get­ting more and more elec­tri­fied by the no­tion of head­ing to St. Al­bert, Alta. this week.

“I would say call­ing her ex­tremely ex­cited is sell­ing it short,” said Oliver. “She hasn’t been able to stop talk­ing about it.”

Although, one would think for Crys­tal, the Spe­cial Olympics are no big thing, since she has been through this be­fore, hav­ing al­ready com­peted at the Spe­cial Olympics Sum­mer Games.

“She knows what to ex­pect,” said Oliver.

Crys­tal, 38, will be com­pet­ing in the 400 me­tre, 800 m and 1,600 m snow­shoe­ing races.

Oliver called Crys­tal “an ex­cel­lent ath­lete and a ded­i­cated run­ner,” whose goal is to make it onto the global stage.

“She is train­ing re­ally, re­ally hard for the games,” said the coach.

She’s also ex­cited about vis­it­ing with old friends and meet­ing new ones from other regions of Canada.

Mean­while, Amanda, 25, will be mak­ing her de­but on the na­tional stage.

Af­ter a strong per­for­mance in Corner Brook, she will be run­ning in the 100 m, 200 m and the 400 m events with other run­ners of the same abil­ity.

Amanda fin­ished first in three events, and a sin­gle sec­ond place fin­ish at the qual­i­fy­ing event in Corner Brook.

She plans on rep­re­sent­ing New­found­land with “a great big smile and lots of de­ter­mi­na­tion,” ac­cord­ing to her blog post on the Spe­cial Olympics web­site. Danc­ing the night away For some ath­letes, it isn’t even about com­pet­ing. It is about the dance at the end of the Games.

It’s an event Amanda is es­pe­cially ex­cited about, since it is her first time go­ing to na­tion­als.

“They all love the dance,” Oliver said. “You don’t have to wait for peo­ple to get on the floor.”

It is a chance for the young ladies to get out and meet new peo­ple.

“The games is re­ally about the friends they make,” said Oliver.

The coach stressed that point when recit­ing the motto for the Spe­cial Olympics world­wide — “Let me win, but if I can’t win, let me be brave in the at­tempt.”

All ath­letes would like the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence vic­tory, but Oliver said that is not the end goal.

“It’s about be­ing re­spect­ful and mak­ing new friends.”

Sub­mit­ted photo

Amanda Butt (left), Rick Oliver and Crys­tal Young (right) are busy pre­par­ing for what should be an ex­cit­ing jour­ney to the Spe­cial Olympics Win­ter Games Feb. 27 to March 4 in St. Al­bert, Alta.

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