The 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games that concluded in Antigonish, N.S., over the weekend. left an impression on the athletes, coaches, families and visitors who cane to the northeastern Nova Scotia community from locations stretched coast-to-coast-to-coast.
“It has been an excellent time,” Crystal Young of Team Newfoundland and Labrador said after competing in a 4X100m race Saturday morning.
The Harbour Grace native, who has been a Special Olympics athlete since 1999, including as a member of Team Canada in the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria in snowshoeing, noted her Antigonish experience was second-to-none.
Young and the other more than 1,000 athletes touched countless people, with not only their athleticism, but also their dedication, hard work, sportsmanship and, of course, friendship.
The Games, which took place for only the second time in Nova Scotia, included more than 1,000 athletes from all 12 territorial chapters – along with more than 600 volunteers and more than 3,000 fans, with competition taking place and medals awarded in nine sports; athletics, basketball, soccer, softball, bocce, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, powerlifting and swimming.
After the final events and medal presentations wrapped up, the closing ceremony took place Saturday evening at the St. F.X. Keating Centre, where the five-day celebration officially opened July 31.
“You have gone above and beyond,” Sharon Bollenbach, CEO of Special Olympics Canada, said in thanking Antigonish and Nova Scotia for hosting an “outstanding Games.”
She credited the Antigonish organizing committee for achieving “incredible success” through its hard work and dedication.
“You have welcomed all of us with open arms,” Bollenbach added.
She also praised the “unbelievable spirit of volunteerism” provided during the Games.
“You continue to change hearts and minds of people around the world,” Bollenbach said of the Special Olympics movement.
Before leaving the podium, she made one request of athletes, coaches and their supporters, leading them in a thunderous ‘thank you, Antigonish,’ which was followed by a standing ovation.
Thunder Bay will host the next gathering of athletes in national competition for the Special Olympics Canada 2020 Winter Games.