I had the pleasure to join Special Olympics Team Canada as they competed at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea. The team of 102 athletes and 41 coaches and mission staff left for Korea on Friday, January 25th, and after 4 days acclimatizing in a nearby host city, they descended upon PyeongChang for a wonderful opening ceremony on Tuesday January 29th. Highlights included a fantastic parade of athletes, welcome speeches by Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, and Special Olympics International Chairman and CEO Tim Shriver.
Competition officially got under way on Wednesday, January 30th, and Team Canada’s health and training programs have sure been paying off. Our athletes are competing hard, and they are winning the hardware to show for it. To date they have piled up 31 gold, 27 silver, and 16 bronze medals, with two more days of competition to go. We’ve won medals in every sport that we compete in – snowshoeing, cross-country and alpine skiing, floor hockey, figure skating, and short track speed skating. Every figure skater on our team won a medal. Our coaches have been fantastic guides and supporters, and our honorary coach Catriona LeMay Doan has been remarkable with the team and their families.
Whether or not they win, place second, or just finish, our athletes are living up to the Special Olympics oath: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Bravery is everywhere. And Team Canada is making an impact off the field as well. Our athletes have been remarkable ambassadors for Canada, and our families (over 140 strong) have been all over in their red and white apparel, cheering on not only our team, but athletes from all countries, esp. those without many fans. It’s the spirit of sportsmanship and inclusion so prevalent in the Special Olympics community.
I am very proud to be associated with this amazing group. If you are a fan, “Cheer” on the team through the special Facebook app on Special Olympics Canada’s home page, or follow them on Twitter (@SpecialOCanada).
Go Canada go!