An athlete from Golden just returned home with another gold medal to add to her resume after a great performance at the Special Olympics competition in Kamloops.
Cross country skier Shelley Poland has amassed quite an impressive list of accomplishments since joining Special Olympics in Golden, including a medal from the world competition in South Korea in 2013.
There were 700 athletes at the competition in Kamloops, and Golden Mission Staff member with SO, Marie-Helene Labonte, says it is a remarkable thing to see.
“All of these athletes are just so happy to be competing,” she said. “It’s really inspirational.”
In her three years with the organization Labonte has seen first hand how Special Olympics programs can foster independence and confidence, and bring a community of athletes together.
“It’s really a great way for them to create relationships and spend time with other young people like them,” she said. “Shelley was so excited when we got on the bus towards Kamloops to see her friends, people she only sees when she competes.”
Most of the athletes who participate in Golden’s programming are in their teen years. They learn about a wide range of sports, including basics like throwing and catching, as well as cross country and downhill skiing, swimming, bocce and golf.
One young skier, Sebastian Gylander, competed at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort with the Golden Kicking Horse Alpine Team (GKHAT) and came out of it with a gold medal.
“That was huge, we were all so proud of him,” said Labonte.
The volunteerism in Golden for the program has been quite strong, and Labonte says now they’re going to work on increasing the skill level of their coaches.
“People here are pretty keen to be involved, now we want to make sure they have the right skills.”