Manitoulin Special Olympians ready for provincial winter games

Members of the Manitoulin Special Olympics snowshoeing team will be taking part in the 2019 provincial games being held later this month in Sault Ste. Marie. Members of the team take time out from a practice recently to pose for a picture. In photo, left to right, is MSO athlete Norm Daoust, coach Judy Olacke, and athletes Bruce VanHorn, Dayne Tipper and Matt Bedard. Missing from photo is Mark Dokum.

MANITOULIN— Since earlier this fall, members of the Manitoulin Special Olympics (MSO) snowshoeing team have been in full training for the 2019 provincial winter games.

“The members of the team have been training since October,” said MSO snowshoe ski team coach Judy Olacke, who will be one of the coaches on the Northeastern Region team at the games. She explained the team has been training at Manitoulin Secondary School.

“We are thankful for the big dump of snow we had in the area (last week),” said Ms. Olacke. “It will make it a whole lot easier for us to participate in outdoor training and now we are going to be able to use the 400 metres of snowshoe trails at Community Living Manitoulin (in Mindemoya).”

“We have five athletes who will be taking part in the provincials, including Matthew Bedard, Dayne Tipper, Mark Dokum, Norm Daoust and Bruce Van Horn,” continued Ms. Olacke.

All five MSO athletes qualified for the provincial games due to their results in the Northeast District games held in 2018. In those games in snowshoeing Matthew Bedard was first in the 400, 800 and five kilometre races; Dayne Tipper was first in both the 800 and 1,600 metres races in his division; Mark Dokum took top spot in the 100 and 200 metre races; Bruce Van Horn placed first in the 200 metre race, and second in the 100 metre race; and Norman Daoust was first in the 100 and 200 metre races. 

“The provincial winter games are a really big event,” said Ms. Olacke. The 2019 Ontario Special Olympics (OSO) Winter Games are set to take place in Sault Ste. Marie on January 31-February 3.

At the games Matthew Bedard will be taking part in the 400 and 800 metre snowshoeing races in his division, as well as the five kilometre race; Dayne Tipper will be racing in the 500 and 800 metre races, while Mark Dokum, Norm Daoust and Bruce Van Horn will all be taking part in the 100 and 200 metre races.

The provincial snow-shoeing races will be taking place at the Searchmont Ski Resort in Sault Ste. Marie. Ms. Olacke noted, “There will be a number of Island families going to the games to watch our athletes.”