Special Olympics team off to National Games

A team from Weyburn’s Special Olympics program, the men’s bowling team, along with two coaches, will be representing Saskatchewan at the Special Olympics National Games to be held in February.

Weyburn has had representatives at the National Games before, but this is the first time they have had a team qualify for this event, said coach Lynn Quist.

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The men’s bowling is comprised of Gerald Langlois, Christopher Keller, Robert Janke, Justin De Roos and Elias Pick, and they will be accompanied by their coach, Jo-Ann Paxman. Quist will also be going, as she will be coaching the ladies team from Swift Current.

The men’s team had qualified by winning the gold medal at the Winter Games, plus they had the best pins over average of any men’s bowling team, said Quist, noting the Weyburn Special Olympics were just informed last week by the provincial organization the team would be going to Nationals.

Quist noted that she and Paxman also had to go through a process to apply to attend as coaches, including attending competitions with the athletes.

The group will now have to do some fundraising, as it will cost each athlete about $1,350 to cover their expenses to travel to the games, to be held in Thunder Bay, Ont., in February of 2020.

The Weyburn Special O organization will hold fundraisers, but in the meantime, the local group has prepared pamphlets that gives information about how to support them with donations that can be directed to specific athletes, said Quist.

Pamphlets will be available from the coaches, and from Quist at the Home Hardware store on Third Street.

The group will have to make the first payment for the trip in September, and then the balance in the new year prior to the event in February.

In the meantime, the bowling team will need to be practicing, ideally about twice a week, and will need to attend some cross-training in the months between now and the National Games. Team Saskatchewan will have a training camp session all together in Regina in September, and the team members will be fitted for their uniforms then.

In the past, Kevin Quist has gone to Nationals with Rob Janke and Dennis Whitrow as individuals, along with Wendy Smith, but this will be the first time for a team to attend from Weyburn.

Quist noted that the team members are excited about going, in particular Langlois, who has competed in Special Olympics for 40 years in various sports. This will be his first time to be able to attend the National Games for Special Olympics.