Two Manitoulin Special Olympians named to national team for worlds

Matthew Bedard

MANITOULIN—Two Manitoulin Special Olympics (MSO) snowshoers have been selected for Team Canada at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

“Kelsey Mellan will be competing in the 100 and 200 metre snowshoeing events, and Matthew Bedard will be participating in the 800 and 1,600 metre snowshoeing events,” said Judy Olacke, coach of the MSO snowshoeing team, last Friday. “Matthew could probably could have qualified for three events, but each athlete is only allowed to take part in two.”

At the 2016 Special Olympics National Winter Games as part of Team Ontario, Kelsey Mellan garnered gold medals in both the 100 and 200 metre races and Matthew Bedard received gold in the 1,600, 800 and 400 metre races.

Kelsey Mellan
Kelsey Mellan

“Both Matthew and Kelsey qualified for the worlds, from the National Winter Games,” confirmed Ms. Olacke. “It is pretty exciting that they are in the worlds, and they’ve been really training hard since this late spring.”

The 2017 World Winter Games 2017 will be held in Austria from March 14-25, said Ms. Olacke. “There will be about 3,600 coaches, athletes and 108 nations taking part in nine different winter sports.”

Special Olympics Team Canada will consist of 110 athletes, 35 mission staff and coaches, two team managers and one Chef de Mission, and will be competing in five different sports in Austria. Team Canada athletes were selected based on their performance at the Special Olympics Canada 2016 Winter Games in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.

The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games will mark the second time a special Olympics World Games has occurred in Austria, with the first being in 1993. The 2017 Games will be hosted in three main locations throughout Austria: Graz (the second largest city in Austria), Schladming (Alpine Skiing World Championships in 1982 and 2013) and Ramsau (Nordic Skiing World Championships in 1999).

“Kelsey and Matthew participated in team building training with all the Team Canada snowshoers in April-May,” said Ms. Olacke. “I’m a training coach, so I will not be going to the World Games; there is a  coach from British Columbia, (Rachel Matthews) that will coach the snowshoeing team.”

“It is just amazing how our athletes are doing, and it all comes with a  lot of hard work, and support from family, friends and fellow MSO athletes,” said Ms. Olacke of this year’s Special Olympics effort.