Special Olympics athletes train hard

Alex Williams, front, and Simon Phipps train during B.C. Special Olympics Nanaimo’s Club Fit program last month at Quarterway Elementary School. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Alex Williams, front, and Simon Phipps train during B.C. Special Olympics Nanaimo’s Club Fit program last month at Quarterway Elementary School.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Only a certain few Special Olympics athletes at last summer’s provincials qualified for the next stage.

And now that they get to go to nationals, they intend to make the most of the opportunity.

Five B.C. Special Olympics Nanaimo representatives will compete at national championships in July at the University of British Columbia. Track and field athletes Alex Williams and Simon Phipps, swimmer Kristeen Cooper, golfer Yves Moskaluke and 10-pin bowler Noel McLean advanced out of the 1,100 participants at provincials in Langley. Track coach Angela Behn and bowling coach Bill Crocker are also going.

With a year in between provincials and nationals, the athletes are supplementing their usual practices with a new Club Fit program.

“Our athletes signed a contract to make sure they keep up their end of the bargain in fitness and training,” said Bobby Debrone, B.C. Special Olympics Nanaimo’s manager of community development. “They come here and they push each other and they push themselves and they try to exceed their personal bests.”

The group meets weekly at Quarterway Elementary School. It’s for any Special Olympics athletes, not just the ones bound for nationals.

At Club Fit they run through strength and conditioning exercises, plyometrics and balance and agility training.

“Whether it’s golf or bowling or track and field, there’s a lot of [training] that can cross over,” Debrone said.

Since the workouts are in a group setting and mixed up with fun and games, they keep the athletes interested. There’s plenty of inspiration anyway, Debrone said, with nationals and home-field advantage a few months away.

“Having the games in your backyard and having friends and parents and caregivers come to cheer you on, you can see the determination in them,” said Debrone. “Obviously we want great medal counts but at the same time we just want them to do their best too and be happy with their performance.”

GYM SHORTS … For more information about B.C. Special Olympics Nanaimo, call Sylvia Taylor at 250-758-0630.

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