Medals of ev­ery colour

Spe­cial Olympian Hobbs re­turns from World Games

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

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.”

PHOTO BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Eleanor Hobbs shows off some of the hard­ware she earned last month rep­re­sent­ing Canada at the Spe­cial Olympics World Games in Los An­ge­les.

PHOTO BY ME­GAN GRITTANI-LIV­INGSTON/SPE­CIAL OLYMPICS TEAM CANADA

Eleanor Hobbs shares a high-five at the Open­ing Cer­e­monies of the 2015 Spe­cial Olympics World Games.

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