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Record-setting powerlifting closes 2015 World Games competition for Special Olympics Team Canada

On the final day of competition at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Team Canada’s veteran powerlifter Jackie Barrett of Newfoundland and Labrador had a big spotlight shining on him and he delivered in a big way. Barrett set four Special Olympics World Games records with his lifts and won four medals (three gold and one silver), closing the show in style as Team Canada’s final competitor in action at the 2015 World Games.

Coupled with today’s bronze medals won by the softball team and bocce doubles team and 12 medals earned in swimming and athletics (six apiece), Team Canada 2015’s World Games medal count topped out at 144.

Expectations were high for Saturday’s powerlifting final and Barrett did not disappoint. In front of packed stands filled with roaring fans, he opened by nailing his astounding squat of 277.5 kg/611.8 lb. No other competitor was anywhere near him. In bench press, Barrett lifted 122.5kg, and was bettered only by the competitor from Qatar who lifted 125 kg. In the closing dead lift event, Barrett achieved a personal best of 297 kg by his second attempt and didn’t try the third – he didn’t need to, no one was anywhere near him.

He shattered the Special Olympics World Games best-on-record marks for the squat (277.5 kg), deadlift (297.5 kg), combined bench press and dead lift (420 kg), and combined all three lifts (697.5 kg).

This is Barrett’s fourth Special Olympics World Games and he has said they will be his last. He hinted he will follow in his mother’s footsteps post-Games and become a Special Olympics coach.

Want to learn more about Barrett’s remarkable strength? Watch the ESPN Sport Science segment that aired on TSN: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=eMl9swlgUDkHYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/watchv=eMl9swlgUDk&feature=youtu.be”&HYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/watchv=eMl9swlgUDk&feature=youtu.be”feature=youtu.be

The athletics and swimming venues were packed with cheering fans today too and the Canadian athletes delivered strong closing performances on August 1. Today’s six athletics medals included two matching gold medals for the men’s and women’s 4 x 400-metre relay teams, and gold in long jump earned by Ontario’s Peter Snider. Congrats to the relay teams:

  • 4×400 women: Lindsay Kinnear of Saskatchewan, Catherine Partlow of Ontario, Katie Saunders of Alberta, and Audrey Vincent of Quebec. The relay gold medal was the third medal earned by Vincent in these World Games after she ran to the top of the podium in the 3,000m and won silver in the 5,000. Athletics Head Coach Aleila Miller said Vincent’s 3,000m performance was “the most courageous, heartfelt run I’d ever seen anyone do in my whole coaching career.”
  • 4×400 men: Sylvian Forest, Maxime Duguay, and Olivier Lizotte of Quebec and Mike Palitti of B.C. Like Vincent, the relay gold was Forest’s third of the Games after he sprinted to first in the 200- and 400-metre events.
  • The 4×100 women’s relay team of B.C.’s Jeneka Greif and Mandy Manzardo with Ontario’s Marianne Scharf and Cathy Smith earned a silver medal with a focused, flat-out effort in their race.
  • The 4×100 men’s relay team of Ontario’s Snider and Robert Pipitone with Manitoba’s Ryan Kneisz and Quebec’s Gabriel Dupuy went out like rockets but had a slight slip and could not complete the course. They can hold their heads high after numerous outstanding performances overall in these Games.

Also on the track, bronze medals were earned in the 1,500m event by Alberta’s Jennifer Riddell and Darby McIntyre, pride of the Yukon. McIntyre had a remarkable crew of 18 family members and friends registered to attend the Games as his supporters, the 12th-highest amount among all World Games athletes.

The 15-year-old McIntyre did not disappoint his many fans, winning gold with a determined, focused, and fast race in the 5,000-metre event on Friday followed by Saturday’s 1,500m bronze. In the 5,000, McIntyre bolted to the front of the pack and never relinquished the lead, looking strong and intent in every lap.

Off the track, McIntyre is a friendly and kind person with great artistic talents in addition to his athletic skills; on the track in USC’s Loker Stadium, he had a laser-eyed focus on the finish line. He said he wasn’t happy with his performance in his 5,000m divisioning race, so he had one thought uppermost in his mind during that race: “There’s no way I’m coming in last again!”

After he finished emphatically in first place, he headed up into the stands to share a joyful embrace with members of Team Darby sporting T-shirts that featured his artwork.

Having had a taste of the podium, McIntyre thought to himself, “I want to at least win a medal again” in the 1,500m – and he made it happen.

Asked what he thought of the 2015 World Games experience overall, the young Yukoner responded fervently, “It was awesome.”

The swimming medals included a 1-2 finish for Magnus Batara of B.C. and Andrew Perez of Quebec in 200m breaststroke, racing in the same division. That was Batara’s fourth gold medal of the Games, after he excelled in the 100m butterfly and 100m breaststroke as well as the 4×100 men’s medley relay. The other terrific results for Team Canada swimming on the last day of competition:

  • Eleanor Hobbs of Newfoundland and Labrador won gold in the 50m butterfly, breaking the one-minute mark with her race time, and earned a silver medal with the 4x50m freestyle relay team along with B.C.’s Avery Newton and Amanda Schleppe and Quebec’s Valérie Gagnon-Paradis. Hobbs previously won bronze in the 100m freestyle and said she was pleased to have won a complete set of 2015 World Games medals!
  • Kelsey Wyse of B.C. won silver in the 800m freestyle, a distance she does not traditionally swim but in which she shone. She was excited to become the first person from her hometown, Kelowna, to race that distance.
  • Ontario’s Meagan Michie won a silver medal in the 200m breaststroke, while Saskatchewan’s Michael Qing finished fifth in the 800m freestyle in a very fast division, and the 4x25m freestyle relay team of Mark Epelon of the Northwest Territories, Josh Low of B.C., Valmor Quitich of Quebec, and Bill Smith of Ontario earned a fourth-place finish.

Out on the Easton Stadium diamond at UCLA, the Special Olympics Team Canada softball team was in fine form winning bronze over Mexico. After dropping three runs in the top of the first, Team Canada rebounded to score two, with a home run by Comox Valley’s Brad Hogan cashing in Kelowna’s Chris Harrington so they got out of the first down 3-2.

Strong defensive play stymied Mexico’s chances through early innings and then Harrington came to the plate with bases loaded and put Team Canada up by one with his single.

Kelowna’s Richard Gillis crushed a solo homer to put the Canadians up 5-2, but Mexico replied with a home run that brought in two runners, tying the game at five. Then the Team Canada bats lit up again at just the right time, scoring three with time running out and Mexico had no answer. The Grizzlies closed out the 8-5 win for Canada to earn bronze.

Jake Macfarlane, one of the team’s youngest players, was bursting with joy after the Grizzlies headed off the field, celebrating all the way.

“I’m so proud of you guys right now,” Macfarlane yelled to his teammates. “We started out down and we came back and won!”

And the bocce doubles team of Margaret Burnell and Kevin Ellis of B.C. put the finishing touches on Canada’s set of first-ever bocce medals by winning bronze, to go with the three gold medals earned in singles play and bronze in the team event. B.C.’s Chad Conlon and Lynden Hicks finished sixth in doubles play after winning gold each in singles play and bronze with the team.

This is the first time Special Olympics Team Canada has included bocce, basketball, and golf athletes, and they all shone.

Stay tuned for the full recap of all the team sports finals coming soon!

Also on Saturday, the 10-pin bowlers received their well-earned medals and ribbons for achievements in singles play. Steven Beaucage of Quebec, Annabelle Davis of B.C., and Jenna Smith of P.E.I. earned three gold medals each with their success in singles, doubles, and team play, and every Team Canada bowler won a medal at these Games thanks to their outstanding performances on the first day of competition, where all four Team Canada teams reached the podium.

Smith said the World Games experience was “very moving. Just how people helped each other through the tough times, how people cheered each other on, and how the parents and the supporters were cheering everybody else on.”

The feeling of winning three World Games gold medals is “indescribable,” Smith said. While she had a goal of winning a medal, she felt “I never thought I would win anything.” To win three is “wow.”

Wow is the word for Special Olympics Team Canada’s performance in Los Angeles! Congratulations to the 114 athletes and their 50 coaches and mission staff members who did Canada proud at these huge World Games!

Full Special Olympics Team Canada results: http://teamcanada.specialolympics.ca/results/

All Special Olympics Team Canada photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92082000@N03/albums