Special Olympics Saskatchewan Summer Games bring out best in competitors

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Special Olympics Saskatchewan Summer Games bring out best in competitors

Hundreds of athletes from all over Saskatchewan came to Moose Jaw for Special Olympics Saskatchewan Summer games.

During the 2017 games athletes had their eyes on competing at the next level, Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S.

Athletes competed in five-pin bowling, 10-pin bowling, athletics, bocce, golf, soccer, softball and swimming over the weekend. 

"I am blessed to have the opportunity," said Dylan Morin. "I was actually surprised I was picked and did very well. As long as you do you best, that's all that matters."

Morin's best paid off in the form of some big wins. He competed in athletics and won a bronze, silver and gold medals for his efforts this weekend. 

Megan Penno volunteered as a five-pin bowling coach for Regina's team. The team won four gold medals, and two bronze, but more importantly to Penno,  the team as a whole surpassed their personal bests. 

"I honestly have to tell you I have the shivers right now because I'm just so excited about being able to see them have success," said Penno.

Healthy Athletes 

During competition, the athletes were able to access a bevy of health services and screenings as part of the Healthy Athletes program.

Amy Bosche, youth coordinator for Special Olympics Saskatchewan, described it as a "head-to-toe health screening."

"They walk away with either a doctor referrals, they get hearing aids free of charge, free glasses, free sport goggles all fitted for their prescriptions. It's incredible," said Bosche. 

"A lot of practitioners don't necessarily have the training to work with our athletes with intellectual disabilities," said Bosche. "A lot of our athletes may be from remote areas, or there's financial barriers or they just don't have access to these kinds of screenings."

According to Bosche, during a few screenings doctors have found potentially cancerous lumps which had previously gone unnoticed.

Camaraderie amongst competitors 

The games certainly had their moments of competition, but organizers, coaches and the athletes themselves strive for a certain degree of sportsmanship during and after the games.

At the medal ceremony for five-pin bowling the crowd erupted when a name was called to receive a medal. Even on the podium the athletes would offer help to their competitors who had trouble getting on to the platform. 

Chelsea Fiddler, director of marketing and development with Special Olympics Saskatchewan, said the support at the games are second to none.

"Honestly, the fellow athletes are the biggest supporters of our athletes. It doesn't matter if you're from Regina, you're cheering on Saskatoon," said Fiddler. 

The community of Moose Jaw also came out in droves to support the games. Fiddler said the community came out to watch the teams play and more than 100 people volunteered at the games.

"You're giving your competitors high-fives throughout the competition. At the end of the competition everybody is making sure that everyone's supported and everyone's having a fantastic time whether you're on the same team or opposing teams," said Penno.

"You really don't get that a lot of places.