Yukon will be represented by a big team chock-full of previous Games experience at a major event this summer.
Twenty-two athletes will compete for the territory at the 2017 Special Olympics B.C. Summer Games, July 6-9 in Kamloops, Special Olympics Yukon announced last week.
“It is a very experienced team,” said Yukon Chef de Mission Brettanie Deal-Porter. “A lot of these athletes have competed in both summer and winter Games and I’m definitely looking forward to traveling to Kamloops, B.C. with them to see how they do.”
The team, which will compete in six sports, is the largest from Yukon to attend the Games — one more than at the quadrennial event four years ago.
Track star Darby McIntyre is always one to keep an eye on. McIntyre won four medals at the B.C. Games in 2013 and went on to medal at the 2014 nationals and the 2015 Special Olympics worlds.
Athletics teammate Jessica Pruden won three medals at the 2009 and 2013 B.C. Games. She also went on to claim hardware at the 2014 nationals.
The soccer team will attempt to keep a medal streak going in Kamloops. Yukon won silver in soccer for the second B.C. Games in a row in 2013 with six of the same players as this year’s team. Eight players from Yukon’s soccer squad won the territory its first-ever gold at the national Games in 2014.
Back for another dip in the pool are two team veterans. Swimmer Ernest Chua won three gold at the 2013 Games and Kevin Spofford swam to three silver and a bronze four years ago. Both went on to win hardware at the 2014 national Games.
Trevor Beemish, Taylor Pooyatak-Amundson and Theresa Roberts rolled their way to bronze at the last B.C. Summer Games and at nationals in 2014.
Aimee Lien will be the first Yukoner to represent the territory in rhythmic gymnastics at the upcoming Games. Lien was on the bronze-winning bocce team four years ago.
“We’re very excited about that,” said Deal-Porter. “It’s neat to be able to participate in a new sport, and it’s a growing sport here in Yukon.
“She’s training hard and there’s a couple different events she’s looking to compete in in B.C. We’re looking forward to see how she does.”
Tijana McCarthy has traded her skates for golf clubs. McCarthy competed on the links at the last B.C. Summer Games. She and soccer player Michael Sumner competed in figure skating at the Special Olympics World Winter Games this past March in Austria. Chua also competed in Austria in cross-country skiing. Also three won medals.
All members of Team Yukon are training three times a week with additional boot camps and fitness training.
The team includes eight coaches and five mission staff.
“We have a lot of the same coaches going as well,” said Deal-Porter. “Ken (Binns) — this will be his first time going as head coach of the soccer team. Leah Greenway — this will be her first time coaching athletics in a head coach role. In bocce we have Deb (Sumner) who has been a head coach before.
“In gym we have Kelsey Quinn … who is a newer coach in the organization. (Swimming coach) Annie-Claude Letendre is new as well.
“Janine Peters, of course, has travelled with the team a few times in different roles.”
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Coach — Leah Greenway
Taylor Pooyatak- Amundson
T. Carrie Rudolph
Coach — Deb Sumner
Coach — Janine Peters
Coach — Kelsey Quinn
Coach — Ken Binns
Coach — Mike Achtymichuk
Coach — Thayna Wasiliw
Sara Lee Edmonds
Coach — Annie-Claude Letendre
Brettanie Deal-Porter — Chef de Mission
Tanya Sage — golf and rhythmic gymnastics
Jerome McIntyre — athletics
Janice Moor — bocce