This was no ordinary day for Team Alberta’s Mark Mengersen, as he approached the lane and readied himself to take his shot – a shot at gold.
The 2018 Special Olympics Canada Bowling Championships featured the best Special Olympics bowlers from across the country and among them was Alberta’s own, Mark Mengersen.
Mengersen was prepared for this moment being a veteran of the Special Olympics Alberta – Olds bowling team he has competed in many tournaments including the 2014 Provincial Games in Vancouver.
This however, was no ordinary moment, but one he had been building towards since 1994.
His journey with Special Olympics began 24 years ago at the age of 10 upon realizing that he loved to bowl and run.
“[Special Olympics] has taught me to be a fair person and a fair Olympic athlete,” said Mengersen. “I am an athlete because of my experience with Special Olympics.”
The 33-year-old has stayed extremely active during his tenure with Special Olympics and currently competes in 5-pin bowling, athletics, basketball, curling, floor hockey, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, snowshoeing, soccer, softball, swimming, and his specialty 10-pin bowling.
While his natural athleticism allows him to excel in many sports, it is his commitment to training and exercise that has driven him to become an elite athlete.
“I keep going and practicing,” said Mengersen. “I go to the gym 6 times a week doing pushups, sit ups, X-kicks, flanks, and steps.”
His dedication has led to massive improvements, which resulted in Mengersen winning three gold medals at the 2017 Special Olympics Alberta Summer Games and ultimately earned him a spot on Team Alberta.
Mengersen worked diligently with coaches and volunteers over the last year to help with his preparations for Nationals and his moment with destiny.
After taking his first shot, it was clear Mengersen was ready to seize the opportunity.
His Nationals performance was spectacular, bowling his way to a gold in singles, silver in doubles, a team silver, and a gold in the overall.
The icing on the cake was smashing his personal best score of 140 points - a mark that is 61 points higher than his average.
With World Games on the horizon, Mengersen would love the opportunity to once again prove that he shines in the brightest lights.
“Yes, I would feel happy and joyous,” said Mengersen on making Team Canada. “It would make my mom happy also because she is always wanting to help make the team better.”
Mengersen believes that Special Olympics has taught him to set goals, which gives him something to work towards. Not only has it taught him how to earn achievements in sport, but also to be a better person and friend.
He has already set new goals for himself which include going to the World Games to compete in 10-pin bowling.
For Special Olympics the next goal is simple - inclusion for all.
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Mengersen and his bowling teammates got together during the 50th Anniversary to celebrate inclusion and the next era of Special Olympics.
“It makes me feel happy and joyous that I can be a part of this team that is celebrating 50 years,” said Mengersen.
For now, Mengersen plans to practice his 5-pin game with the hope to compete at the 2019 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games in Calgary.
Mengersen is challenging new athletes to join Special Olympics because any fear that you have about competing or meeting new people will disappear once you see the support of those involved.
“I would tell them to have courage,” said Mengersen. “It is fun and exciting and we learn lots.”
Sign up for a Special Olympics program near you today!