‘I couldn’t stop cry­ing’

Jenna Smith has ac­com­plished a lot in short time, in­clud­ing rep­re­sent­ing Canada at World Games

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - Bowl­ing In­tro­duc­tion Twit­ter.com/Jp­sport­sJa­son

“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.

Train­ing

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.”

JASON SIM­MONDS/TC MEDIA

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.

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