Port Alberni’s Special Olympics athletes returned home from the Winter Games in Vernon, B.C. last month with smiles on their faces and medals around their necks.
More than 800 athletes, coaches and mission staff converged on the North Okanagan from Feb. 21–23 for the largest Winter Games in Special Olympics B.C. history. Athletes competed in front of large crowds in five-pin bowling, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating.
Port Alberni’s Special Olympics program sent one of its largest-ever contingents to the Winter Games, with more than 40 athletes and coaches making the trip.
Many of Port Alberni’s athletes returned home with medals, and all came home with an amazing experience. They competed in figure skating, floor hockey, curling and bowling.
The curling team won gold, as did two of the bowling teams. Two bowling teams won silver. The three figure skaters all came home with medals: Kari Trott won bronze, Matthew Macdonald won bronze and Jamie Amos won silver.
The floor hockey team won bronze after finishing in a three-way tie at the top of the tournament. They earned their bronze based on goals for and against other tied teams.
For Simone Myers, winning provincial gold in curling was the culmination of a personal goal she set for herself this year. Meyers has been to seven provincial championships in a number of different sports.
“I felt good. Proud of my team. It was great to get a gold,” she said.
She summed up their success in one word: “Teamwork.” Myers, who plays third, said all four players communicate well on the ice during games, especially with skip Michael Booth.
“The game I remember is getting a lot of measurements because the rocks were very close. The team beat us the first day and then we beat them the second day,” she said. “It was very close.”
Athletes at the provincial games were competing for the chance to advance to the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay. Those national games are in turn a qualifier for the 2021 World Winter Games that will be held in Sweden.
— With files from Vernon Morning Star