Multi-sport athlete Joshua Trudell was delighted to play his part in putting to bed a dark era in sports across the province, speaking to KTW on Monday, when Special Olympics BC (SOBC) revealed its 2023 Winter Games will take place in Kamloops.
“It’s been challenging,” said Trudell, standing in front of one of the Games’ venues, the Tournament Capital Centre. “For a lot of athletes, it’s the social aspect, right? Getting to know more people and making friends and just playing and competing. It’s been kind of hard with the pandemic going on.
“So, especially here in my hometown, it’s going to be an honour for me to play. I’m hoping my friends and family can see me, as well, and hopefully bring a gold medal here.”
About 800 athletes will compete in eight SOBC winter sports — 5-pin bowling, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating — from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4.
Athletes will be supported by about 250 volunteer coaches and mission staff.
Kamloops hosted the first-ever Special Olympics BC Games in 1986 and went on to host SOBC Summer Games in 2017, along with SOBC Winter Games in 2015 and 2003.
“People with an intellectual disability are often isolated, no matter what,” SOBC vice-president Lois McNary said. “You can just imagine that in a pandemic, even more so.
“Often, Special Olympics is the only opportunity they have to get out and be with people who are their peers and really socialize. It becomes their entire social life. When we had to shut down, that shut down everything in their life. That was it.”
Trudell, who plays basketball, floor hockey and softball and competes in track and field, has participated in two Games.
“We’re all a big family,” he said. “For me, since the beginning, for six years now, it’s just been about meeting lots of awesome athletes with incredible athletic abilities across Canada and the province.”
Events and programs will operate in accordance with return-to-sport safety protocols.
Top performers will qualify to compete in the 2024 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, the qualifier for the 2025 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Special Olympics BC – Kamloops operates a variety of seasonal sport, youth and fitness programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities and always welcomes new athletes, coaches, volunteers and supporters.
Year-round programs are reopening with safety protocols in place.
More than 1,000 volunteers will be needed to help stage the 2023 SOBC Winter Games. Volunteer registration details and Games venues will be announced in the weeks to come.
“Every single time we come here, we get such tremendous support from the city, the community sports groups and volunteers,” McNary said. “When we were looking at what would be our post-COVID event, we naturally gravitated to Kamloops and, right away, they said we can make this work.”
KAMLOOPS LAST WEEK
Trudell will feature on Wednesday in Episode 31 of Kamloops Last Week.
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