Yukon News

Yukon Special Olympians tapped for national Games

Tom Patrick Wednesday December 23, 2015

Tom Patrick/Yukon News

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Yukon's Michael Sumner performs at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C., in February.

A team of five athletes will represent Yukon at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, Special Olympics Yukon announced Monday.

Some have competed at a previous national winter Games, others have not. Three have even competed at international Games.

All of them are very dedicated athletes, said Yukon Chef de Mission Brettanie Deal-Porter.

“This team has been incredibly dedicated to their training, the commitment, the boot camps and doing a lot of training on their own on the side,” said Deal-Porter. “They’ve been incredible, so positive, and they’ve been wonderful to work with. They are all very eager to learn.”

Two figure skaters and three cross-country skiers will represent Yukon at the quadrennial Games, which will be held in Corner Brook, N.L. the first week of March.

All five qualified for the national Games with performances at the Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games last February in Kamloops.

Darby McIntyre, Ernest Chua and Owen Munroe will hit the ski trails in Corner Brook and will be overseen by coach Helen Slama and mission staffer Jerome McIntyre.

With a decade of cross-country skiing and numerous Games already under his belt, Munroe is “comfortable” with attending another nationals.

“I like doing races, I like new locations, trying new tracks,” he said. “I’m hoping I can win a gold medal again and also make Team Canada again, go to (the world Games in) Austria in Europe in 2017. That would be a dream.”

Not only did the 28-year-old skier win gold at the 2008 nationals and silver at the 2012 nationals, he captured two bronze at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho. In Kamloops he placed fourth in the 7.5-kilometre and fifth in the five-kilometre classic technique races.

Corner Brook will be Darby and Chua’s first national winter Games. Darby won two gold and Chua placed fifth in two races in Kamloops.

“That was his first competition ever and he did really great because he had to ski it twice and he improved his time ... He almost halved his time,” said Slama of Chua.

“Ernest can ski, he can swim, but he cannot fly - yet,” added his proud mom Shirley Chua-Tan.

Though it will be his first national winter Games, Darby isn’t at all new to competition. He won gold and bronze in athletics - track running - at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, Calif.

Yukon’s figure skaters, Mike Sumner and Tijana McCarthy, both qualified for nationals with silver medal performances in Kamloops.

McCarthy is the only one of the five Yukoners set to compete at her first national Games. She is “excited” but “nervous,” she said, and her goal is to perform a clean routine in Corner Brook.

Sumner, on the other hand, won gold at the 2012 national winter Games and went on to take silver at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea.

Team Yukon’s four male athletes all won hardware at the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver. Munroe and Sumner played on Yukon’s first-ever gold winning soccer team at the Games; Chua took silver and bronze in freestyle swimming; and McIntyre captured silver in the shot put and in the 5,000-metre in athletics.

“Each of these athletes have successfully adhered to the requirements of Team Yukon 2016 training squad, including staying positive, being a team player, supporting their teammates and trying their best at every practice,” said Deal-Porter.

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