Special Olympians off to Austria
Crystal Young and Sandra Smith will represent Team Canada at the 2017 Special Olympic World Winter Games in Austria later this month. The two women from the Conception Bay North area will compete in snowshoeing events. Last Thursday, a special gathering took place in Tilton to help send off the athletes.
Crystal Young of Harbour Grace and Sandra Smith of Carbonear will both fly to Austria this coming Saturday as members of Team Canada for the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Young and Smith are members of the Tri-Con Gentle Giants Special Olympics team, and will be taking part in the 1,600 metre and five-kilometre snowshoeing races. They have competed in the past on both the provincial and national levels.
The Orange Lodge in Tilton hosted a celebration for both athletes last night, where they received cheques from both the Carbonear and Harbour Grace councils, as well as kind words from those who will cheer them on from home.
“This all means so much to us,” said Young, standing next to Smith who fought to hold back tears of joy.
Rick Oliver, Young’s training coach, says that both of the athletes more than deserve the opportunity, and their dedication leading up to the games shows just how much it means to them.
“I’ve never seen someone so dedicated to a sport,” said Oliver about Young, who he trained up to this point. “You tell her to run 5k and she’s gone, running 5k. Usually more.”
Smith and Young’s performances in previous provincial and national games are not only what got them where they are today. Both athletes attended training camps in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and followed a strict training routine while at home. Usually, this involved a five-kilometre run through a trail six days a week.
Both athletes will spend roughly three weeks in Austria. During the first week, they will get the chance to explore the country and get used to the culture. The following two weeks will be when the winter games take place, although a solid schedule has not yet been set in stone for either of them.
Smith and Young two of four Newfoundlanders who will be travelling to Austria with Team Canada. They will be accompanied by Justin Drodge of Grand Bank- Fortune and Floressa Harris of Gander.
“They worked hard,” added Oliver, “and I hope all the hard work pays off in the end.”
Sandra Smith (left) and Crystal Young were presented with donations from neighbouring communities.
Harbour Grace Mayor Terry Barnes congratulating Crystal Young and wishing her all the best.