In June, thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities, including eight Manitobans, will go to Berlin to compete in the world’s largest inclusive sports event, the Special Olympics World Games.
The event will last for nine days and feature a total of 26 sports. Manitobans represent just a small part of the team, but their force is unmatched, according to one of the coaches.
“I think so often people with intellectual disabilities are kind of written off in a sense, and they don’t get the same opportunities that other athletes do, but yet they’re incredible,” said Jacqueline Mazur, powerlifting assistant coach. “They’re so strong, they’re so fast, they persevere through every challenge so being able to see that is probably my favourite thing.”
Due to the pandemic, the selection process for these games has been slightly different.
“Usually there’s a cycle where we have provincials and then the following year, if you make the provincial team, you go to nationals. But because of COVID, they did it very differently this time around,” said Regan Hofley, athletics athlete.
“I’m excited about experiencing another country, meeting new people from around the world again, making some new friends, and being able to compete on the world stage again and be competing on an Olympic stadium for the first time ever.”
“I started screaming. I was at my mom and dad’s house and I said ‘mom, mom, mom come come come’ and she was in the other room and I said come quick. Read the email.” said Jennifer Adams, bocce athlete.
The athletes train multiple times a week with their sport-specific coaches. They had their first training camp in November as a team and they are all buzzing with worlds just around the corner.
“We met up on Remembrance Day and we were there until I think, the 13th. I’m very excited for these games, will be my second World Games, my first World games were four years ago in Dubai so I’m very excited,” said Hofley.
Canadian athletes have one more training camp this month before heading off to Berlin in June where they hope to return with some hardware.
— With files from Global’s Teagan Rasche
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