Manitoulin Special Olympics team hauls home the metal

Manitoulin Special Olympics champions have returned from the Special Olympics Winter Games in Sault Ste. Marie bearing an impressive medal haul. The Manitoulin contingent included, from left, Norm Daoust, Bruce Vanhorn and Dayne Tipper of Mindemoya, Matt Bedard of Manitowaning and Mark Dokum of Wiikwemkoong. photo by Judy Olacke

SAULT STE. MARIE—The five Manitoulin members of the Northeastern Ontario Special Olympics team have returned from the Ontario Provincial Winter Games with their chests gleaming with metal. 

“I had a wonderful time at Sault Ste. Marie,” said Matt Bedard of Manitowaning, who came first in the 800 metre with a time of 03:24.20 and the five kilometre, and second in the 400 metre with a time of 01:23 and 4 x 400 metre relay. “The weather was amazing, but the best part of the weekend was having many friends and family there to cheer us on.” Matt believes in always doing his best and having fun. 

“I really enjoyed the Opening Ceremonies with all the cool performers like the Back Bacon Band, the Soo Dance Unlimited and the original songs for Special Olympians by Kelly McGillivray,” said Dayne Tipper of Mindemoya. “The special video messages from people like the NHL player from the Sault helped motivate me. The Searchmont Ski Resort where we snowshoed was really beautiful.” 

Dayne came first in the 800 metre, with a time of 06:21.68, second in the 400 metre with a time of 02:53.41 and third in the 4 X 400 metre relay.

Mark Dokum of Wiikwemkoong hauled in three firsts, one in the 100 metre with a time of 00:18:09, the 200 metre with a time of 00:44.22 and 4 X 100 metre.

Bruce Vanhorn took first in the 100 metre with a time of 00:32.71 and second in the 200 metre with a time of 01:14.62. 

Norm Daoust of Mindemoya took first in both the 100 metre with a time of 00:47.72 and the 200 metre with a time of 1:49.34 and second in the 4 X 100 metre relay.

“As coach, all my athletes showed tremendous effort all season long. All this hard work paid off this weekend,” said Judy Olacke. “They gained such wonderful experiences and pride in themselves. Our Island athletes showed great tenacity and character dealing with challenging situations; lack of sleep, busy schedules, cold days outside and technical issues and delays.” 

“The Special Olympics Ontario Winter Games benefit from a host of volunteers who put their efforts on the line to help ensure success for the athletes,” Ms. Olacke added. “I contribute our success to all the support from assistant coaches Katherine Tipper, Sandy Graham and Ruthanne Francis, as well as our volunteer trail groomers Rob Mellan and Matt Bedard. As well, support from family and Community Living Manitoulin staff are very much appreciated.”

The 500 athletes and coaches from across Ontario were supported by 400 volunteers and Searchmont Ski Resort was the venue for the snowshoeing events.

“Our Island athletes competed extremely well against the best from across Ontario,” Ms. Olacke. “It is now their hope to be selected to represent Ontario at the National Games next year.”