Sports

Two locals headed to Special Olympics

Amanda Stewart and Mark Blasco take a break from training for nationals, taking place in Vancouver from July 8-12. The pair will be two of the over 2,000 Special Olympic Athletes taking part in the games. - Tyson Taylor photo
Amanda Stewart and Mark Blasco take a break from training for nationals, taking place in Vancouver from July 8-12. The pair will be two of the over 2,000 Special Olympic Athletes taking part in the games.
— image credit: Tyson Taylor photo

Two of Oceanside’s Special Olympic athletes will be representing the area at the nationals in Vancouver July 8–12.

Amanda Stewart and Mark Blasco each  qualified at the provincials last year in four different swimming events and they are excited about the trip to Vancouver.

Blasco qualified for the 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke. Stewart qualified in the 25m freestyle, 25m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke.

The nationals are taking place at UBC and will host more than 2,000 athletes, coaches, officials and mission staff. In addition, there will be more than 1,000 volunteers that will assist in all aspects of the games.

“They’re both really excited and have been training very hard,” volunteer coach Rosey Cowan said. “Having the chance to represent the community means a lot to both Mark and Amanda and they’re looking forward to being a part of the nationals.”

In addition to their training, Stewart and Blasco will be on hand for the Oceanside Special Olympics Golf Tournament at the Pheasant Glen Golf Course June 21. All of the proceeds will go towards supporting the Oceanside athletes in the area.

The entry fee is $90 per player for a round of golf and dinner. There will be a putting contest, hole in one prize, low gross team prize, live and silent auction, skill prizes and a prize draw. It will be a shotgun start at 1:30 p.m. with tons of smiles to be found all over the course.

“It’s so great to see the smiles on their faces as they’ve been getting all kinds of encouragement from everyone they’ve seen,” Cowan said. “It makes them all the more determined and they have a great time with it all. To see their enthusiasm and the hard work they put out is really nice to see.”

Both swimmers have been getting great feedback from the community so far and will continue to work hard for the nationals. It’s something that Cowan noted was thanks to the supportive community around them.

“People see them away from training, out in public while they’re working or just out and about and they’ve been getting a lot of well wishes,” Cowan said. “Having that away from the pool has been great for them and when they’re in the pool with their training, everyone is giving them high fives and wishing them luck. It’s nice to see the support of a community like this where there are all kinds of walks of life.”

Both Stewart and Blasco have been training hard at Ravensong Aquatic Center where they’ve been swimming laps three days a week. If you see Stewart and Blasco around, make sure to give them a high five and wish them all the best.

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