In­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence

Paynter earns op­por­tu­nity to com­pete at World Games

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS -

Free­town’s John Paynter look­ing for­ward to com­pet­ing for Canada at the Spe­cial Olympics World Games in Los An­ge­les.

There is much more to Spe­cial Olympics than just sports for John Paynter of Free­town.

For ex­am­ple, there’s the friend­ship and ca­ma­raderie.

“I have met a lot of new friends through my time with Spe­cial Olympics,” said the 42year-old son of Honor Paynter. “Now I’ll be able to meet new friends from all over the world.”

Paynter is in Los An­ge­les with Team Canada for the Spe­cial Olympics World Games from Satur­day to Aug. 2. He will be­gin com­pe­ti­tion on Sun­day.

“He’s been work­ing re­ally hard in the last year,” said Jodi Harper, Paynter’s train­ing coach on P.E.I. “His car­dio is good, his fit­ness is good and he will do well.”

Paynter was se­lected for Team Canada fol­low­ing a three-medal per­for­mance at the 2014 Spe­cial Olympics Canada Na­tional Sum­mer Games in Van­cou­ver. He won bronze in the 100- and 200me­tre sprints, and sil­ver in the shot put.

“John is pretty easy go­ing and takes ev­ery­thing as it comes,” said Harper, a Tignish na­tive now re­sid­ing in Har­ring­ton.

Paynter trains mostly at the UPEI track in Char­lot­te­town and Credit Union Place in Summerside. He trains al­most ev­ery day, and Harper noted his hard work has paid off.

“He’s come a long way,” said Harper. “I was say­ing to Honor a lit­tle while ago I wish I would have taken be­fore and af­ter pic­tures of when he started this jour­ney for Team Canada.

“His phys­i­cal fit­ness has changed quite a bit. He’s been work­ing hard, and I’m proud of him.”

Has there been one area of fo­cus for ath­lete and coach lead­ing up to Los An­ge­les?

“The last month we’ve been work­ing hard with both the starts and fin­ishes, and not slow­ing down un­til I have passed the fin­ish line,” said Paynter. “We’ve talked about work­ing hard and hav­ing fun.”

Paynter is no stranger to Spe­cial Olympics, hav­ing com­peted in dif­fer­ent pro­grams and al­most ev­ery sport of­fered for the last 12 years. He also curls in the win­ter.

While this marks Paynter’s first World Games, he has worn P.E.I.’s colours in five Na­tional Games. Paynter cred­its his many ded­i­cated coaches dur­ing the years for his suc­cess.

“Ev­ery­one has been fan­tas­tic,” em­pha­sized Honor. “He never would have got­ten as far as he has with­out them.”

Along with com­pet­ing, Paynter is look­ing for­ward to en­joy­ing the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence that a World Games of­fers.

“I want to have fun and meet new peo­ple,” said Paynter, who is also look­ing for­ward to rub­bing shoul­ders with some big-name celebri­ties and sup­port­ers of Spe­cial Olympics. “There will be lots of movie stars there, and ‘The Ter­mi­na­tor’ (Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger) will be there.”

JASON SIM­MONDS/TC MEDIA

John Paynter trains on the track in­side Credit Union Place’s East­link Arena.

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