As the world has its eye on Tokyo and watches the 2020/21 Olympics, Kincardine skater Rosie Laidler has announced she is coming out of retirement to compete at the Worlds Special Olympics in Kazan, Russia, scheduled to take place in 2022.
“This past April, my parents got a call from Special Olympics Canada,” said Laidler. “It was a big call and a big decision to make. They wanted to know if I would represent Canada at the World Special Olympic Games in January 2022 in Russia! I wasn’t sure what to say. I have been to Worlds two other times, and I would have to come out of retirement if this was to be my third.”
Laidler said she and her mother had a long talk about the opportunity to return to the competitive stage and after much consideration she decided “why not give it another go! It would be a good opportunity.”
Since then, she has been training every day. She will continue dryland training until the ice is available, hopefully sometime in August. Her training regime includes a Zoom class and a yoga class, attended by all the figure skating athletes across Canada, for training.
The Canadian figure skating team includes 21 athletes from British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario. Six coaches train the skaters. Of the seven Ontario skaters, only three, including Laidler, have been to the Worlds before. She will be competing in level six solo dance and level five free skate. She says her biggest competition from Ontario will be Sarah Ryan, who is also participating in both events.
“All athletes have to get fitness tested,” said Laidler. “We usually do this at the first training camp in May, but due to COVID we couldn’t get together as a group. Instead I will be doing it with my training coach. I have been practicing to get ready for this test. My mom often helps me prepare for these because I need help with the timing, and the measuring components of the exercises. The fitness test is next Thursday, so wish me luck!”
Laidler says if Special Olympics Canada decides that it isn’t safe enough to go participate because of the pandemic, she will understand.
“It is up to each country to decide if it’s safe for their national athletes to go,” she said. “I will understand if they say it's unsafe. If they say it is a go, then I plan on being ready. I hope to enjoy a few skates in Russia before I go back into retirement! I don’t know what will happen if I get there, but I do plan on trying my best!”
On the heels of Laidler’s announcement that she would return to competition, she was awarded the 2021 Athlete Lifetime Achievement Award by Special Olympics Ontario.
“It is our profound honour to congratulate Rosie Laidler on receiving the Special Olympics Ontario 2021 Athlete Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Special Olympics Kincardine & Area, in a release. “Rosie has been an athlete with Special Olympics Kincardine for over 26 years, in eight different sports. During her career as an athlete, Rosie’s dedication, tenacity and hard work has led her to participate in 12 provincial games, seven national games and she is currently in training for her third appearance at World Games in 2022!”
“A natural born leader, Rosie is an inspiration to other athletes in our area, as well as a voice of experience and knowledge to our newer coaches experiencing games at any level for their first time. Competitions have taken Rosie from coast to coast, all over Ontario and given her the opportunity to travel the world! Congratulations on your amazing achievements Rosie, and best of luck at the upcoming games!”
Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent