Manitoulin Special Olympic athletes gearing up for national competition in Thunder Bay

Team practice

MANITOULIN – Five members of the Manitoulin Special Olympics (MSO) snowshoeing team, along with coach Judy Olacke, have been working hard in preparation for their participation in the 2020 National Special Olympics Winter Games.

“The athletes have been working hard at Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) in M’Chigeeng, and about four practices at the Maple Ridge Trails (in Mindemoya), since the winter started,” said Ms. Olacke. She along with athletes Bruce Van Horn of Mindemoya, Dayne Tipper of Mindemoya, Mark Dokum of Wiikwemkoong, Normand Daoust of Mindemoya and Matthew Bedard of Manitowaning will be attending the games. The MSO team brought home a total of 15 medals from the Special Olympics Ontario (SOO) provincial winter games held in 2019 and were subsequently selected to compete at the nationals.
“We will all be attending a training camp in North Bay (this weekend) where we will have the chance to train with the entire snowshoeing team, for team building skills and practice,” said Ms. Olacke. 

The National Games will take place in Thunder Bay from February 25 to 29. Approximately 1,185 athletes, coaches and mission staff will take part along with 60 technical officials. Team Ontario is comprised of 251 athletes, 70 coaches and 16 team management. “There are also 500 volunteers, 800 friends and family for the games, which will include eight different (sporting) events. 

“It’s a big event,” said Ms. Olacke. “The opening ceremonies are going to be amazing and the athletes and coaches are treated very well during the games. (They will stay at the athletes’ village).”

Ms. Olacke praised the efforts of Rob Mellan who has been grooming the snowshoe trails for the Manitoulin athletes to practice on.

Those athletes who do very well at the Nationals may then qualify to be selected for Team Canada for the 2021 World Winter Games to be held in Sweden.