Medals of every colour
Special Olympian Hobbs returns from World Games
Eleanor Hobbs is surprisingly humble for an athlete who recently returned home from an international competition with three medals — gold, silver and bronze.
“It’s just a great experience and everything — honest to God,” Hobbs told The Compass in the parking lot of Persalvic School in Victoria, moments before she joined a motorcade to celebrate her accomplishments.
The 38-year-old swimmer earned medals in all events she competed in at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. The event featured 6,500 athletes representing 165 countries. It was the Victoria resident’s first appearance at the World Games.
“It’s an achievement … It feels like I’m on top of the world,” said Hobbs, who is originally from New Perlican.
“It means the world to me that I have the opportunity to swim and become a good swimmer.”
Hobbs claimed gold in the 50metre butterfly event, taking more than two seconds off her preliminary-round swim to finish with a time of 59.15 seconds. As a member of Team Canada’s 4 X 50-m freestyle relay team, Hobbs helped her fellow country-mates claim a silver medal. In the 100-m freestyle, she swam a 1:48.84 to claim the third spot on the podium.
Hobbs qualified for the games in Los Angeles last year when she competed at the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver. She returned to Vancouver earlier this summer to train for the World Games.
Hobbs felt a mixture of nerves and confidence heading into her trip to California. Getting to train in Vancouver helped combat those nerves, which more or less vanished once she finished her 100-m freestyle final.
“I was a bit nervous at first when I was going up against other people, but I forgot (about it) and I was relaxed,” she said.
Supporters and fans
Plenty of people understand the significance of Hobbs’ achievements in Los Angeles. Teammates and volunteers from the TriCon Gentle Giants joined her for the motorcade, as did local politicians like Carbonear-Harbour Grace MHA Sam Slade and Avalon MP Scott Andrews. Andrews playfully wrapped Hobbs up in a Canadian flag while she spoke with The Compass.
“What are you up to,” she said to him with a laugh.
She appreciated all the effort that went into celebrating her success at the World Games. In addition to the motorcade last Wednesday, a pool party was held in Carbonear, with snacks served afterwards.
“I love that people recognized people with special needs — people who love me and care about me and think the world of me.”
Hobbs — who credits her respite worker Judy Curnew for helping her a great deal over the years — wasn’t the only Newfoundlander to medal at the World Games. Corner Brook powerlifter Jackie Bar- rett set three meet records and claimed his 13th career gold medal.
This year’s World Games was reportedly Barrett’s last. Asked whether she’s given any thought to leaving competitive swimming behind, Hobbs is quick to shoot that idea down.
“I don’t think the team wants me to quit at this moment, so I’m going to keep on going until it’s time to give up.”
Eleanor Hobbs shows off some of the hardware she earned last month representing Canada at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
Eleanor Hobbs shares a high-five at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.