Golden weekend at Special Olympics Games
Douglas Bailey with the gold medal he won in 50m freestyle at the Special Olympics Alberta Summer Games in Medicine Hat.Ryan Stelter/ Camrose Canadian
Camrose athletes came home with plenty of medals from the Special Olympics Alberta Summer games in Medicine Hat.
The games, which took place from July 7-9 saw very hot temperatures that everyone had to endure. Camrose won gold in softball after beating Calgary 13-7, the novice basketball team took home bronze after winning two straight games. The 5 Pin bowling team just missed out on the podium by four points, but Jody St. Onge and Jessica Enns both took home silver medals individually. Douglas Bailey excelled in the pool, winning gold in the 50m freestyle, silver in 50m backstroke, and bronze in the 25m freestyle.
“It was an exhausting day for sure,” Bailey said. “It felt fantastic.”
Bailey wants to make it to the national games held next July in Nova Scotia, but for now he will enjoy the medals he won.
“I do want to go to nationals,” he said. “I might take a bit of a break instead.”
Head coach of the softball team Roland Richard, said his team played phenomenal in the tournament.
“We played probably the best ball we’ve ever played,” he said. “Going into the provincials all the athletes were pretty nervous, excited, and they played super well.”
The heat was a challenge, but Richard said there was plenty of water to go around.
“They had to shorten up the games from an hour and a half to one hour,” he said. “We had lots of water breaks, lots of ‘misters’, we had people run out and spray down the athletes, we kept the boys hydrated.”
The gold medal win was the culmination of a lot of practice, the softball team started training in February, doing drills and throwing the ball around indoors at the Camrose Recreation Centre.
“Both myself and my assistant coaches, I think we were more nervous than the players themselves,” Richard said. “We’ve struggled to beat [Calgary] before, but now we’re the best in Alberta.”
Richard got started with Special Olympics after his mother, who coached a Special Olympics team inspired him to join. Richard, who also coaches a bowling team in the winter, had the opportunity to join the softball team as an assistant coach five years ago, he jumped at the chance. One year later, he became the head coach.
“It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done,” Richard said. “You can have the crappiest day at work and then go to a Special Olympics event and your day isn’t that bad. Just to see the joy in how the athletes appreciate the coaches is amazing.”