Parksville Qualicum Beach’s special athletes returned from the provincial games loaded with medals.
The Special Olympics Oceanside team consisting of 13 athletes and three coaches, had an impressive outing at the Special Olympics Provincial Summer Games held in Kamloops recently.
The small but mighty local squad had six members qualify to compete in the swimming events, five were entered in bocce ball, and there was one in bowling and one in track and field.
Competing in provincial games was a huge thrill for the athletes, many of whom had their first opportunity ever to travel with a team, and thrived on the chance to challenge themselves to attain and exceed their athletic goals.
Emily Beauchamp made a splash in the pool in the 100 metre individual medley, picking up her first ever provincial gold medal.
“I’ve been waiting over 20 years to get to provincial games for swimming, and I finally got here and I got my first gold medal,” said Beauchamp. “It felt awesome, like all of my hard work for the last year had paid off, and it just makes me want to work even more and even harder in practice to get here again.”
Other medalists for Special Olympics Oceanside in the swimming events include Priscilla Dickson who picked up gold in the 25m breastroke and silvers in the 25m freestyle and 50m freestyle. Amanda Stewart won gold in the 100m and took home two bronze medals in the 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle.
Clara Kodweis landed the silver in the 100m and pocketed bronze medals in 100m backstroke,and 50m butterfly. Michael Gibson won gold in the 25m back, and two silvers in the 25m and 50m freestyle while Mark Blasco won two bronze in the 100m and 200m freestyle.
In bocce ball, the Oceanside quartet of Ashley Thompson, Kerri Lipsack, Jenny Morris and Shayne Blandin claimed the bronze medal in Division B, while Geoffrey Trimble, as a member of Salt Spring Island team, bagged a silver in Division C.
In bowling, Melanie McMaster won gold medals in the individual categories. She bowled her best game ever at 247. She also teamed up with Lake Cowichan and won a bronze medal.
In track and field, Curtis Leung was a triple medalist winning gold, silver and bronze medal in long jump, 100m run and shot put respectively.
Top performers in Kamloops qualify for spots on Team BC for the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S., and the 2018 National Bowling Championships in Prince Edward Island.
Out east, the participants will compete to advance to the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.
— NEWS Staff