Team P.E.I. came home from its first Special Olympics competition in three years with a bucket-load of medals and plenty of praise from opponents and officials.
“The team received many compliments from other teams and officials about how respectful and kind they were,” said Special Olympics P.E.I. executive director Charity Sheehan.
The Special Olympics Nova Scotia Provincial Summer Games, held last month in Antigonish, were the first time the Island athletes had competed against other provinces since the COVID-19 pandemic began. And they showed no signs of rust.
The Island team, comprised of 51 athletes, won almost 30 medals, including a gold medal for the basketball team that was competing for the first time.
“It was pretty spectacular,” Sheehan said.
“We were really excited about this team — that was really an Island team made up of athletes in Charlottetown and Summerside — and they walked away with a gold medal their first showing out. So it was really nice to kind of see.”
Team P.E.I. defeated Halifax 25-20 in the medal game. Every member of the team scored at least one basket.
Because the 2022 national games were cancelled, the Nova Scotia games served as a qualifier for the 2023 World Summer Games next June in Germany.
The P.E.I. athletes who will attend will be chosen based on a points system, Sheehan said.
“All of our athletes are super deserving and they had such a great showing. So it will be challenging to kind of go through that, but because it is so prescriptive, there’ll be kind of a smaller pool of athletes that will actually qualify, you know, depending on what those events are that are identified.”
It’s an exciting time for Special Olympics on P.E.I. as activities get back to normal after a break during the pandemic.
“We’re really excited about a full slate of programming across the Island, as well as getting back to opening our doors a little bit more in terms of having community groups come into our programs to play floor hockey or be at bocce or whatever program that we have going on.
“So we’re really excited about that for our athletes to … be back in community.”