July 16th, 2018

Sports newsmaker of the year: Special Olympic athletes steal the show

By Ryan McCracken on December 30, 2017.

St. Albert's Alexis Morgan (1) gives teammate Chelsi Dyck (33) a high five during a baseball game against Calgary in the Alberta Summer Games Special Olympics on Saturday, July 8, 2017 at the Family Leisure Centre. -- NEWS PHOTO RYAN McCRACKEN

rmccracken@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNMcCracken

For three days in July, Medicine Hat witnessed pure joy.

More than 1,000 athletes, coaches and volunteers piled into the Cypress Centre to celebrate the Special Olympics Summer Games opening ceremony, kicking off a sweltering weekend on the local diamonds, fields and courts, complete with more “Medicine Hot” jokes than anyone could ask for.

But the real spectacle of the Games was the athletes themselves. Hundreds of competitors across more than a dozen different events, from bowling to track and field, showcased the true meaning and value of sport in our society.

Sports bridge the gap between differences, they offer a chance for people in all walks of life to come together and experience joy in its purest form, and that joy — rather than the podium — was the primary focus of the three-day event.

“You guys are an inspiration,” Olympic gold medal winning speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan told athletes while speaking at the opening ceremony.
“Courage is something every one of us needs and you guys have an abundance.”

Athletes, coaches and supporters from all different areas of the province showed their support for every single competitor when they had their chance to shine under the provincial spotlight.

And that’s exactly what they did, stealing the hearts of this city while putting on a show that was both inspiring and exciting.

“It’s all about team spirit and cheering on athletes other than our own teams. It’s really neat to see,” said Medicine Hat’s Terri Didack, who won gold in women’s Division 4 bocce. “It was really enjoyable, not only being the host city but as an athlete myself — this was my first time — it was just an amazing thing.”

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