‘I couldn’t stop crying’
Jenna Smith has accomplished a lot in short time, including representing Canada at World Games
“It feels great to pull on Team Canada’s uniform. I’m very excited to be going to L.A.” Jenna Smith
Jenna Smith’s reaction said it all.
The 25-year-old from Ellerslie was swimming with a friend when she received a Facebook message from Special Olympics Canada.
The daughter of Betty and Elzie Smith was informed she would be part of Team Canada for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles from July 25 to Aug. 2.
“I couldn’t stop crying,” she recalled. “I was really emotional.”
Smith will compete in tenpin bowling, and earned a Team Canada roster spot with an outstanding performance at the 2014 Special Olympics Canada National Summer Games in Vancouver. She won gold medals in singles and doubles, and silver overall.
“She did so well in B.C., it was incredible,” said Special Olympics P.E.I. executive director Charity Sheehan, who is a member of Team Canada’s mission staff in Los Angeles.
Although a relative newcomer, Smith has built an impressive resumé in just five years of involvement with Special Olympics. She has represented P.E.I. at two National Games, and this will be her first World Games.
“It feels great to pull on Team Canada’s uniform,” Smith said proudly in an interview with the Journal Pioneer. “I’m very excited to be going to L.A.”
Smith was introduced to tenpin bowling at a “very, very young” age by her late grandparents, Olive and Irwin Dennis, who were bowlers. Throwing the ball and sliding on the surface immediately drew her to the sport at the Tyne Valley lanes. The rest is history. “Over the last year we’ve really seen growth in Jenna, said Sheehan, who described Smith as a shy social butterfly. “Her scores have improved significantly, and she has much more confidence in herself and her abilities.
“Some of the things and fears that kept her from being on these types of teams have been totally washed away by making that leap of faith.”
Smith raved about her experiences with Special Olympics, and the support provided by Prince Edward Islanders to her and fellow P.E.I. athlete John Paynter of Freetown leading up to the World Games. Paynter is a member of Canada’s athletics team.
“We’ve received lots of support, and it means everything,” she continued.
Since receiving that Facebook message, Smith has been working hard with her P.E.I. training coach, Ann Kilby of Tyne Valley. Preparations included watching her diet and bowling “at least four times” a week, exercising every day and tracking scores.
Three areas Smith and Kilby have been working on leading up to the World Games are her aim, executing more spares and relaxing when throwing the ball.
“I am going to do the best I can,” reiterated Smith. “It would be great to win a medal, but the experience will be even greater.”
Jenna Smith of Ellerslie trains at the Credit Union Place bowling lanes in Summerside. Smith is a member of Team Canada’s tenpin bowling team at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles from July 25 to Aug. 2. The bowling competition begins Sunday.