Island snowshoers Kelsey Mellan, Matt Bedard to represent Canada at the World Games this week

Kelsey Mellan and Matt Bedard, both of Manitowaning, will represent the country at the World Winter Games this week.

AUSTRIA—Manitoulin Special Olympians (SO) Kelsey Mellan and Matt Bedard will be representing Canada in snowshoeing at the SO World Winter Games in Austria starting this week.

“Kelsey and Matt travelled to Sudbury on Saturday (March 11) with Kelsey’s grandparents before travelling to Toronto Sunday to meet up with the rest of Team Canada,” explained Kelsey and Matt’s Manitoulin SO snowshoe training coach Judy Olacke, who noted that she would not be travelling to Austria as Team Canada has six coaches that will be accompanying them. “They then had a sendoff event on Monday and are to fly out on Tuesday to Austria.”

Kelsey will be competing in the 100 and 200 metre races, while Matt will take part in the 800 and 1,600 metre races.

The pair will start their training in Austria tomorrow, Thursday, March 16, followed by races on Friday and Saturday to determine their division.

The finals for the 100 metre race will be held on Sunday, March 19, while the 800 metre finals will be held on Monday, March 20. The 200 metre finals will be held on Tuesday, March 21, followed by the 1,600 metre finals on Friday, March 24.

Kelsey has been snowshoeing for 10 years, attending the World Winter Games in South Korea in 2013 where show won a silver medal and achieved a personal best in her races.

Matt also has a storied history of competing at both the summer and winter games, competing at the SO Summer Games in Vancouver in 2014 where he earned gold medals in high jump and the 4×400 relay and a bronze in the 1,600 metre race. In 2016, he competed in the Winter Nationals in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland and won gold in the 400, 800 and 1,600 metre snowshoe races.

“I am very excited as Kelsey and Matthew head to Austria,” said Ms. Olacke. “After all their hard work and dedication to healthy living and training, Kelsey and Matthew are ready to compete at their very best. It is an amazing accomplishment and will be such a wonderful experience competing in a World Games. I know Kelsey and Matthew will show confidence, pride, respect and sportsmanship as they become ambassadors for Special Olympics, Manitoulin Island and Canada. I wish them all the best as they experience a new country, meet new friends and enjoy all the joys of sport competition at the highest level.” 

The SO World Winter Games 2017 are being held March 14 to 25 in the Austrian communities of Graz, Schladming-Rohrmoos and Ramsau. There are 2,700 athletes from 107 nations competing, joined by 1,100 trainers, 3,00 volunteers, 5,000 family members/friends, 800 congress participants, 800 media representatives and 1,200 honoured guests.