Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

Special Olympics Team Canada shone in Austria

28 April 2017

After years of training and competition to reach the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, the members of Team Canada from British Columbia truly delivered in Austria March 14 to 24.

Special Olympics Team Canada’s 16 athletes, eight coaches, and one mission staff member from B.C. did their province proud as they were well prepared to compete with skill and determination on the world stage. Competing in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, figure skating, snowshoeing, and speed skating, all of the B.C. athletes medalled, collectively earning 11 gold, 10 silver, and five bronze.

With the help of their coaches and supporters in their year-round Special Olympics programs at home, the members of Team Canada were very well prepared to compete and shine on the world stage. Their achievements at these World Games mark the culmination of an exciting four-year journey, as the B.C. athletes progressed through Regional Qualifiers in 2014, the 2015 Special Olympics BC Winter Games, and the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games to earn the opportunity to compete in Austria.

“We are very proud of this province’s members of Special Olympics Team Canada 2017. They trained so hard to be able to perform at their best on the world stage, and they showed such inspiring dedication, sportsmanship, and skill,” said Lois McNary, Special Olympics BC Vice President, Sport.

Full SOBC results and highlights + links to photos and more coverage

Find out more about their experiences in the media coverage below!

SOBC – Victoria’s Michael Langridge earned two gold medals in his two alpine ski races at his first-ever World Games. “I couldn’t believe it,” he told the Victoria News.  

SOBC – Nanaimo cross country skier Dennis Lynch, competing in his first World Games after 30 years as a Special Olympics athlete, was proud to win silver in the 1KM relay event as well as finishing fourth in the 1K freestyle and 2.5K classic. He chatted with NanaimoNewsNOW. “Lynch said he was ‘a little bit nervous’ going into the race and was happy and proud when he crossed the finish line second.” More in the Nanaimo News Bulletin.

Coverage of Team Canada’s outstanding members from the Okanagan – cross country skiers Tracey Melesko and Francis Stanley of SOBC – Kelowna and Justin Sigal of SOBC – Vernon, snowshoer Tony Wilkinson of SOBC – Kelowna, coaches Garth Vickers and David Wilkinson of SOBC – Kelowna and Ray Huson of SOBC – Penticton:

This was Melesko’s fifth time competing at World Games (in both summer and winter sports!) and she told Global Okanagan: “This one was more special. I was just more relaxed, I think I did really well.”

“I’m very proud of myself,” Tony Wilkinson told Global Okanagan. “I worked so hard for this.”

Sigal told the Vernon Morning Star: “The competition was pretty tough. In the races where I won medals, it was pretty fun. I felt like I was pushing myself to the limit. It was such a great experience.”

“It makes you really proud to see them come and give their all,” coach Huson told the Penticton Western News. “They just gave everything. It was amazing to watch. Really gratifying.”

This was the eighth (!) World Games for SOBC – Surrey figure skater Marc Theriault, and the first World Games for Surrey alpine skier Susan Wang. Both did Canada proud along with SOBC – Surrey figure skating coach Elizabeth Roman! "This truly was a great experience and I'll cherish it forever," SOBC – Surrey alpine skier Susan Wang said. "I loved competing with people from all over the world." Read more:

See the big smiles of SOBC – Kimberley/Cranbrook alpine skiers Erin Thom, Jonathan Robins, and Roxana Podrasky and their SIX MEDALS featured in the Cranbrook Daily Townsman!

SOBC – Fort St. John figure skater Darlene Jakubowski (pictured at right with Roman) struck gold in Level 6 Singles in her third World Games! “It feels good,” she told the Alaska Highway News. “I landed my axel. I got my one thing done. I did it in the practice, it wasn’t as I planned. Then I did it in the program and I landed it clean.”

SOBC – Langley speed skater Matthew Williams raced to silver in his 1000M event and captured a fourth-place finish in the 500M. “It means a lot to me, and I hope it inspires others to go out and realize that they fulfill their dream too,” he told Breakfast Television Vancouver. More:

CONGRATS to all the members of Team Canada! You made all of us so proud!

Full SOBC results and highlights + links to photos and more coverage

SOBC - Kelowna coach David Wilkinson and athlete Tony Wilkinson in Austria with Tony's World Games hardware!

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