Special Olympics coach Aleila Miller is off to the World Games in Los Angeles.

Special Olympics coach Aleila Miller is off to the World Games in Los Angeles.

Coach off to World Games

Smithers resident Aleila Miller will be on the world stage over the next couple of weeks.

On Monday she headed off to Los Angeles as the head coach for Canada’s athletics team (track and field) at the Special Olympics World Games, which run from July 25 to Aug. 2.

“The World Games are such an incredible opportunity, not only for athletes but so people can come together and celebrate,” she said Friday.

She will be part of an 185-person Canadian contingent at the games, which will see about 6,500 athletes from around the world compete. Just like the Olympics, the World Games are held on a four-year cycle.

The athletes that Miller will be coaching come from all across Canada. The team has had a two training camps in the last year. Just like other sports, athletes must go through qualifiers at the regional and provincial levels before being able to try out for the national team.

For Miller, it will be her second World Games, her first being in China in 2007.

She has been involved in coaching Special Olympics for 16 years and is “honoured” to be a part of it all.

As a kid, being involved in sport really helped me to rise up out of difficult beginnings and it enriched my life greatly,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference and give back by helping others to find empowerment through the joy of sport, and all that training, competition and community brings.

“In the process of being involved in Special Olympics  I have formed life-long friendships and have had the opportunity to contribute to one of the best sport and humanitarian organizations in the world through coaching.”

She said coaching for Special Olympics, whether on a local level or a world stage, provides an opportunity to impact people’s lives and “help people with intellectual disabilities to be seen as the capable, incredible and dignified people they are. I have been truly inspired every step of the way.”

No Smithers athletes qualified for the games, however, there is a large B.C. contingent, including Prince George bowler Linda Renner. And while there are no Smithers athletes attending in 2015, that could change very soon.

“We have a lot of very talented athletes in our community who could participate in years to come,” she said.

by Bill Phillips