The British Columbia Special Olympics were held earlier this month and there were a lot of local athletes who competed.
The summer games took place in Kamloops July 6-8 and 42 athletes and coaches from Region 7 attended the games, of those 13 were athletes from Smithers and eight staff from Smithers and Telkwa.
Ann Forbes was one of them. She said the games were fun and running the 400-metre race was her favourite part.
“I ran it fast,” she asserted.
Forbes came home with four medals; one silver and three bronze.
Region 7 stretches from Burns Lake to Prince Rupert & Kitimat. The athletes placed in five-pin bowling, soccer, aquatics (swimming) and athletics (track & field).
Eight aquatic athletes brought home 13 medals in total — six gold, three silver and five bronze. Of those eight athletes, three are from Smithers: Herb Dietrich, Brooke Karrer with one silver and one bronze medal, and Kaylee Richter -with a bronze medal.
Kaylee Richter, 13, was one of the youngest athletes to compete at the games. Her sport was swimming.
“It was fun and really tiring,” she said. “Because we had to wake up at 6:30 on Friday and Saturday and then we had to compete and I was really tired … on Saturday, my 50-metre freestyle was right in the morning and I was still sleeping.”
Despite being tired, Richter swam her way to a bronze medal in the 25-metre freestyle.
“[It was] exciting, I was competing against all adults,” she said.
Three athletic athletes brought home a total of six medals: one gold, two silver and three bronze. All those athletes are from Smithers: Ann Forbes with one silver medal and three bronze medals, Torben Shuffert had one gold medal, and Luke Smith won a silver medal.
“The City of Kamloops was very welcoming with all the volunteers, and the very hot weather … At one point another coach mentioned that it was 41 degrees Celsius at the pool on Friday … and all our athletes braved the difficult weather without complaining even on Saturday with the smoke — what a great group!” said coach Karmen Richter.
She added it’s a four-year process for the athletes, starting with regionals then provincials, nationals and finishing at worlds.
“Just to see them progress over the four years is pretty amazing,” said Richter.
The summer games brought in 1,500 athletes, over 2,100 medals were awarded, 14,000 meals served, and 246 buses used.
“Plus countless smiles and so much pride in personal bests!” said coach Richter.
Torben Schuffert ran the 100, 200 and 400-metre races and competed in javelin and running long jump. He threw his way to a gold medal in javelin.
“I liked that, it was very fun to win something,” he said.
A memorable moment for the athletes was at Thompson Rivers University’s track where they have water cannons to cool the track down. When the athletes were finished, staff turned the sprinklers on and allowed the athletes to run through the water.
Despite the hot temperatures, nobody got sun burned, heat stroke or dehydrated.
While it’s a competition, Kaylee Richter was able to make friends.
“I met some new friends,” she said.
As the Special Olympics Athlete’s Oath goes, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Nationals will take place in 2018 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and the World games the following year in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
“It was really fun,” Kaylee Richter exclaimed.