Special Olympics Yukon held a send off event at the Coast High Country Inn on July 19 for the team heading to the 2018 Special Olympics National Summer Games. (Star Flower Photography)

East bound and down for Special Olympics Yukon athletes

‘I am so proud that you are our team’

Special Olympics Yukon held a send-off event on July 19 in Whitehorse for athletes heading to the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S., and for athletes who took part in the Special Olympics Canada Bowling Championships in May.

The event included remarks from Serge Michaud, Special Olympics Yukon’s executive director, athlete Darby McIntyre, local dignitaries, coaches and Special Olympics Winners Circle members, as well as a live music performance.

Athletes competing in athletics, bocce, bowling, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer and swimming were all recognized at the event.

Speaking at the event, MP Larry Bagnell said the upcoming competition is exciting.

“You’re going to show the rest of Canada, just like you always do, how great the Yukon is,” said Bagnell, addressing the team. “I don’t have to wish you luck because you always do fantastic because of the hard work you’ve done.”

Community Services Minister John Streicker took the opportunity to announce that Premier Sandy Silver, deputy premier Ranj Pillai and Streicker are all planning to attend the competition.

“(We) are planning to be there to cheer you on,” said Streicker. “I am so proud that you are our team.”

The bowling team of Hayley Halushka, Mallory Pigage, Garry Chaplin, Lisa Bachli and Wayne Thomas won silver in the team competition at the stand-alone bowling championships in Charlottetown this spring. Pigage and Chaplin also won gold in their individual divisions while Thomas won silver.

The athletics team of Jessica Pruden and McIntyre are both veterans of previous national games. This will be Pruden’s third Summer Games and McIntyre’s second.

McIntyre’s performance in 2014 was good enough to earn him a spot on the national team for the 2015 world games, where he won a gold and a bronze.

The bocce team of Taylor Pooyatak-Amundson, Trevor Beemish, Theresa Roberts and Carrie Rudolph has been training for individual play — a new event at the competition.

Soccer will look a little different this time, as the format has shifted from a five-on-five setup to a seven-on-seven alignment.

The team is made up of 11 athletes — Gaetan Michaud, Owen Munroe, Christopher Lee, Jasmin Stange, Michael Sumner, Stefan Oettli, Sara-Lee Edmonds, QueyAnna Thompson, Rachel Dawson, Kenneth Atlin and Duncan McRae — and is looking to repeat their gold-medal success in Vancouver 2014.

Michaud was also named as the flag bearer for the team, and will lead the group into the opening ceremonies.

Dawson City’s Stange is the lone athlete heading to the Summer Games from a community.

Swimmers Kevin Spofford and Ernest Chua are both going to the Summer Games for the second time.

New for this year’s event is rhythmic gymnastics, composed of ball, ribbon, rope and hoop routines.

Team Yukon’s lone gymnast, Aimee Lien, won five gold medals at the BC Summer Games in 2017. Lien also performed a routine at the event.

The Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games run from July 31 to Aug. 4.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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