QUEENS COUNTY – Athletes were working hard on the track at Queens Place Emera Centre March 12. Time is ticking by for them - in just four months, they’ll be competing on the national stage.
Nine Special Olympics athletes from Queens and Lunenburg counties have qualified to compete at the 2018 Special Olympics Canada National Summer Games. The event is scheduled to take place at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish from July 31 to Aug. 4.
Those heading to Antigonish include Jamie Belong, Rebecca Delaney, Matt Faye, Emily Latta, Rebecca Maule, Jennifer McIntosh, Colby Oickle and Ben Theriau, who will be competing in track events. Krista Stockman will be representing Lunenburg-Queens in golf.
Track and field coach Kody Latta and golf coach Jim Stockman will be joining the athletes as well.
In order to secure a berth at nationals, the athletes first had to qualify at the 2017 Provincial Summer Games. St. Francis Xavier University also played host to that event from June 16-18.
Latta says athletes practice about three or four times a week, starting off on the track at Queens Place Mondays. On Wednesdays, there’s a group at the Lunenburg County YMCA in Bridgewater and a group in the fitness room at Queens Place. Then, on Saturday mornings, there’s another track practice at the field house in Bridgewater.
And it’s been a busy schedule, he adds. Training kicked into high gear “since basically after they were picked,” said Latta.
He says it’s great to coach a group that’s heading to nationals. The program is near and dear his heart, since he got involved with his own daughter 15 years ago.
Latta says he enjoys getting to know the athletes, and he likes seeing them “better themselves.”
The nine sports featured at the games include athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer, softball and swimming. By competing in this summer’s games, athletes can qualify to represent Canada at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.