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Local Special Olympics Athlete and Coach heading to Calgary

'I was at the national games in 2020 in Thunder Bay and my favourite part was meeting new people'

Pursuit is a sports feature series highlighting athletes, coaches, and staff and significant sporting events from North Bay and the surrounding area.                    


There will be some local representation at the Special Olympics National Winter Games in Calgary later this month. Jackelyn Osborne will be heading to the Albertan capital to compete in Snowshoeing.  

“I’ve been involved with Special Olympics since I was a kid and I’ve been competing in snowshoeing for 8 years. It’s very fun because I have a lot of friends on my team, and I get a lot of different experiences.”  

Osborne says they train regularly for this competition which includes a 100-meter and 200-meter race

“I practice with the team once a week and I get out with my mom a couple times a week,” says Osborne, adding her advice to others who want to try it out is, “just get some snowshoes and get out there!” 

Osborne, 34, says she enjoys competing in a variety of sports and this will be her second trip to the national winter games. 

“I was at the national games in 2020 in Thunder Bay and my favourite part was meeting new people.” 

Osborne says she’s looking forward to going to Calgary for the first time and says she plans to do some sightseeing.  

“I want to see the city and the scenery surrounding it.”  

The games begin in Calgary on Tuesday, February 27th and run until Saturday, March 2nd. Participants who qualified through their Provincial and Territorial Games, will compete in eight sports at seven venues throughout Calgary.   This will also be Shannon Johnsons second trip to the games as a coach. 

“I was with Jackelyn at nationals in Thunder Bay as well and it was fun meeting people, and getting to see the community. There's lots of things to do in Calgary and I I'm looking forward to the opening ceremonies which are always a great time,” she says.  

“I'm also hoping we have time to go see the Olympic Oval and catch some speed skating.” 

The long-term Committee Coordinator says she and Osborne will be joined by athletes from Sault Ste. Marie and Sturgeon Falls.  

“It's nice to see the athletes from different locations come together and practice as a team,” she says.  

“Most of them found out in September that they were going to nationals, and we held a training camp shortly after that. Since October they have been training for two days a week in their sport and up to three to four other activities per week as well.” 

Johson says that includes weight training and cycling to build up endurance in addition to snowshoeing.  

“We’ve been lucky in North Bay that we have had snow on the ground since the beginning of November, because my athletes in the Soo have had to travel sometimes for up to 30 minutes outside the city to find an area they can train on.”  

She says within the training, and everything else they do, they make it fun for the athletes.  

“We are focusing on the idea that everything they do, they are playing so that they enjoy it more and it's not just about the competition. They have training plans they have to fill out on a monthly basis which encompasses their mental and physical and spiritual training. We have athletes that have really high anxiety. A lot of what we do comes down to letting them know they are there to have fun and when you push that message they don’t seem stressed about what they have to do. We remind them the competition is really about getting together with your friends, and doing the best they can and the only person they are racing is themselves.” 

Johnson says when they get to the games, the athletes will compete four times.  

“For Jackelyn she will have the preliminary races in both the 100- and 200-meter distances and then she’ll have the finals in both as well.”  

Johnson was also a part of the planning committee when North Bay hosted the provincial winter games in 2015 and says it never gets old seeing the smiles on the atheltes faces.  

“To see how happy they are when they walk into those opening ceremonies. It’s so exciting for them and they want to be a part of it and then seeing the competitions themselves, it just can’t be beat. Everybody tries their best and that’s all you can ask of them.”  

Johnson says they are always looking for more people to join Special Olympics in a variety of roles.  

“We are always looking for coaches, we never have enough coaches so if someone is interested they can call me or go on the website for more information.”  

The website is:  

Johson can be reached at: [email protected] or 705-478-8432 

If you have an idea for the ‘Pursuit’ series, send Matt an email at [email protected]  

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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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