Nine Island athletes qualify for 2016 national games

MANITOULIN—Nine athletes from the Manitoulin Special Olympics (MSO) team have qualified to compete at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland from February 29 to March 6, 2016.

MSO athletes Regan Millsap, Randy Corbiere, Rebecca Strain, Andrew Splawnyck and Jeff Panamick represented A division curling for North Eastern Ontario at the provincial games held recently and won gold over the GTA District team from Weston, qualifying for the nationals. MSO coaches Nancy Leeson and Ellen Holroyd have also been named for the winter games.

Fellow MSO athletes Dayne Tipper, Matthew Bedard and Kelsey Mellan, along with coach Judy Olacke, brought home six gold, one silver and two bronze medals at provincials and also qualified for the national games.

MSO Nordic skier Mary Claire Howell, who won two gold medals at provincials, will be joining the team as well representing Manitoulin at the 2015 winter games.

“Very excited,” said MSO coach and coordinator Jannet Anning, of the Island athletes qualifying for nationals. “All of the athletes made personal bests at provincials and nine athletes moving forward to Nationals is just incredible. We (the coaches) are all ecstatic.”

Although the winter games are a year away, Ms. Anning said that there is no down time for the athletes and that their training will continue throughout the summer, fall and next winter.

“It is part of the deal,” said Ms. Anning. “They are hard working athletes and have committed to training throughout the summer. As well, several of the athletes will be going to a training camp in Barrie the weekend of March 28.”