After impressive results in provincial competition this summer, five athletes from the Shuswap will be competing in the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games.
Tessa Allwood from Salmon Arm will be competing in basketball and the bocce team of Carina Chu, Kathleen Nelson, Nick Anchikowski and Tristan Harms-Popham will also be representing B.C. at the national games.
The local athletes will be travelling across Canada for the games which will be held in Antigonish, Nova Scotia from July 29 to August 5.
Allwood was a member of the Thompson Okanagan Ogopogos basketball team who went undefeated on their way to a gold medal at the provincial competition in July.
The Ogopogos were made up of players from Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops, along with Allwood.
The local bocce team picked up gold medals in the B division at the provincials that were held in Kamloops in July.
The Shuswap athletes represented the area in competition against athletes from 54 other B.C. communities. Now they turn their eyes to a much bigger event.
Their gold medal finishes qualified them for the Special Olympics Team BC Training Squad. Now, as official members of the provincial training squad, they are primed to represent the Province of British Columbia at the national level.
The awards ceremonies at the provincial games were emotional for the local athletes.
“I had tears of happiness,” Chu said.
Harms-Popham echoed the emotion, “I couldn’t believe it when [we] won gold, it was such a close game.”
They are pumped and committed now to train for the national games.
“Games such as these empower the participants, change lives, and foster inclusive communities,” reads a Special Olympics BC Press Release about the Shuswap athletes.
“When interviewed, the athletes rated ‘greater friendships with team mates’ as one of the most important aspects of the competition. Through Special Olympics competitions, athletes experience joy and acceptance. It gives them the opportunity to cultivate long-term friendships, gain self-confidence, and feel empowered to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.”
The Special Olympics programs available in Salmon Arm cater to all ages and a wide range of abilities.
The athletic competitive programs include basketball, bocce and snowshoeing. These sports are supplemented by fitness programs such as Club Fit, and coming soon for the seven to 11 age group, FUNdamentals.