As 2016’s exciting season of summer-sport Regional Qualifiers continues, Special Olympics BC athletes are setting personal bests, making new friends, and experiencing the thrill of competition.
A number of firsts are being celebrated this season, such as SOBC – Mount Waddington sending athletes to a Regional Qualifier for the first time. SOBC – Mount Waddington swimmers competed at the Swimming Regional Qualifier for Region 6 hosted by SOBC – Comox Valley on April 16 and 17, and they had a fantastic experience.
“The atmosphere was indescribable. Our hearts were so filled with love and happiness from the time we stepped onto the deck,” SOBC – Mount Waddington swimming coach Courtney Cox said.“Watching the sportsmanship and passion between all the athletes and teams was one of the most incredible feelings I have ever felt.”
Cox said the SOBC – Mount Waddington swimmers had been training for the Regional Qualifier for the past three years. She credits SOBC – Comox Valley volunteers for helping her team prepare for the event, and says the mock swim meet they hosted about a month before the qualifier played a big role in getting the Mount Waddington swimmers ready to compete.
“Proud doesn't even begin to describe my feelings for the athletes,” Cox said. “It was amazing. They are amazing! I had to remind myself to sit down and let them go on their own! I just wanted to be with them the whole time; I would have swam beside them if I could! They have worked so hard for three years in preparation for this and it definitely paid off.”
While Cox said her team’s biggest goal for the Regional Qualifier was to have fun, she said the SOBC – Mount Waddington swimmers performed very well in the pool.
“Our athletes swam their hearts out and shaved seconds off of every swim they competed in. Every personal best record they had, they beat,” Cox said.
SOBC – Comox Valley hosted a dance on the weekend of the Regional Qualifiers, and Cox said the event was a great opportunity for athletes to make new friends.
“There was so much fun and excitement in that gym. It was contagious. We all had a great time, laughing and creating new friendships,” Cox said.
SOBC – Salmon Arm athletes also achieved a significant milestone at a Regional Qualifier. For the first time, athletes from the Local competed at a Basketball Regional Qualifier at the March Madness Basketball Tournament hosted by SOBC – North Shore. The SOBC – Salmon Arm athletes joined forces with athletes from SOBC – Kamloops to compete as a combined team. Twenty-nine teams competed at the March Madness Basketball Tournament, setting a new record for this big annual event, which this year served as the Regional Qualifier for Regions 1 to 5.
SOBC – Salmon Arm athlete Kathleen Nelson played on the combined team and said the tournament was a great experience.
“It was fun, I met lots of new people,” Nelson said. “For me that was good because I like to meet new people.”
Nelson said playing with athletes from SOBC – Kamloops gave her an opportunity to learn new skills.
“They would show us their moves, and we would show them our moves,” Nelson said.
The combined team finished fourth in their division at the tournament and won a sportsmanship award.
“It felt pretty good,” Nelson said on her team winning the sportsmanship award. “I didn’t even know we won until they gave us the trophy.”
This season of Regional Qualifiers has also seen the introduction of the squat event at SOBC Powerlifting Regional Qualifiers.
SOBC – Campbell River athlete Callum Maclagan won the gold medal in squat at the qualifier, which took place at the British Columbia Powerlifting Association Winter Open in Richmond on March 20. The event served as the Regional Qualifier for all SOBC athletes, and a great total of 40 terrific competitors took part.
To win the gold medal in the squat event, Maclagan put up an impressive 142.5 kilograms (314.2 pounds). He said the cheering crowd contributed to an energetic atmosphere at the event.
“It was kind of like a tidal wave of energy,” Maclagan said.
Maclagan also won gold in the deadlift and bench press events. He said after the qualifier he was “exhausted.”
Maclagan said all his hard work training paid off at the event, and it was great to attend the Regional Qualifier with other athletes from his Local.
“It’s good to have a team because they can cheer you on,” Maclagan said.
This season of Regional Qualifiers is seeing thrilling competition in a variety of summer sports, as SOBC athletes compete for the opportunity to participate in the 2017 Special Olympics BC Summer Games.
In addition to the Swimming Regional Qualifier hosted by SOBC – Comox Valley, SOBC – Vancouver, Kelowna, Coquitlam, Burnaby, and Fort St. John hosted swimming qualifiers for Regions 5, 2, 3, 4, and 8, respectively.
SOBC – Burnaby hosted the Rhythmic Gymnastics Regional Qualifier for Regions 4 and 5, and SOBC – Victoria hosted the qualifier for Region 6.
For 5-Pin Bowling Regional Qualifiers, SOBC – Mission hosted for Region 3, SOBC – North Shore hosted for Region 5, SOBC – Trail hosted for Region 1, SOBC – Richmond hosted for Region 4, SOBC – Port Alberni hosted for Region 6, SOBC – Smithers hosted for Region 7, and SOBC – Dawson Creek hosted for Region 8.
SOBC – North Shore, Prince George, Kelowna, Surrey, Richmond, and Nanaimo hosted 10-Pin Bowling Regional Qualifiers for Regions 5, 8, 2, 3, 4, and 6, respectively.
A big thank you to all the volunteers and athletes who have helped make all of SOBC’s Regional Qualifiers a big success!
As this season of summer-sport Regional Qualifiers continues, we are looking forward to more exciting competitions to come in 5-pin bowling, athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, softball, and swimming.