Special Olympics Canada | Olympiques Spéciaux Canada
19,645 volunteers

and coaches deliver Special Olympics programs in hundreds of communities across Canada

12 floor hockey players

were brought to Chicago by Harold Smith to represent Canada at the first International Special Olympics in 1968

Team Canada


Catherine Partlow

Catherine Partlow

About Catherine Partlow

This 27-year old track star from Whitby, Ontario has been with Special Olympics since she was fourteen. At first, Catherine Partlow competed in swimming, and while she made good friends, it wasn’t always this way.

As a child, school was difficult for Catherine. She only had one friend, and his name was Jimmy. He had Down syndrome. Catherine will tell you, “the other kids didn’t really bother with us much because we had special needs.”

Then her mom heard about Special Olympics and her life changed. She discovered many different sports like swimming and speed skating before getting to her true love, track and field. Catherine is quick to point out, “I love to run, and feel like I am flying when I am on the track!”

Along the way, she met coaches who believed in her, always inspiring her to do her best. For Catherine and her family, Special Olympics has offered the chance to meet new people and make new friends, who accept her just as she is. She learned how to be part of a team and gained confidence to enter competitions. She has had the thrill of representing Canada three times at Special Olympics World Summer Games, first in Dublin, Ireland (2004), then Shanghai, China (2007) and most recently, Athens, Greece (2011). For Catherine, there are no prouder moments for her than when standing on the podium and receiving gold for Canada.

“I cannot imagine my life without Special Olympics. It has given me more confidence to try new things,” says Catherine. She now goes to the gym on her own, where she works out three times a week. “Thank you for believing in athletes like me and for supporting Special Olympics.”

How to be an Athlete

We believe that Special Olympics can offer children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability like Catherine the opportunity to reach their full athletic and social potential, building athletic skills and character traits that will help them lead happier, healthier lives. It is a path to empowerment, competence, acceptance, joy, and friendship. And so, Special Olympics will be accessible and open to these individuals with an intellectual disability, regardless of their ability level.

Contact your local chapter for more information about registering as a Special Olympics athlete.