Though the 2023 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games that was hosted by Strathcona County wrapped up last weekend, the celebrations and praise are continuing for Airdrie's athletes and for good reason.
Lyndon Chubbs, who has been coaching for three decades, saw his snowshoeing team win three medals - all by the same athlete. Gold went to Airdrie Special Olympian Lyall in the 100-metre race, though he also placed third (Bronze) in the 400-metre race and ran his fastest time of the year. However, Lyall was awarded yet another medal in the 200-metre race as well, placing second with a silver medal.
"My philosophy when I coach is for the athletes to just do their best. I always tell them that as long as they work to get their personal best, then then they've been successful," he said. "If there's a medal that comes along with that, then that's an added bonus."
Chubbs said that when he was observing Lyall compete, he said that he knew that medals weren't on the athlete's mind, but when he was on the podium, there was pure joy.
"I've been working with this particular athlete for the past four or five years and we train once a week. So, I've seen the growth of this athlete," Chubbs said. For all three events at the provincial games, he did achieve his personal best. For him, medals were not on his mind, it was about the spirit of competition. So, when he knew that he had won the medals and got up on the podium, it was just pure joy just a smile on his face."
When asked why he has been coaching and dedicated so much of his time, Chubbs said that it's important for him to foster the understanding that everybody needs to have that opportunity to participate.
"Whether it's in sporting activities, or being included in the community; you have to remember a lot of these athletes are working in our communities. They're going to our schools, but they don't [always] have the opportunity to participate in [those] sports. We need to be able to see that everybody needs to have the opportunity to be included in all the activities."
He encouraged all athletes to come out and participate, saying that it's not just about competing.
"Once you're out there; you will love every second of it and I'm hoping that for next year; the success at these games will encourage other Airdrie Special Olympic athletes to come out to snowshoe with me as well."
But Airdrie's athletes didn't just excel in snowshoeing. The bowling team, knocked the competition down as well, both literally and figuratively. Airdrie's Special Olympic bowling coach, Sandra Foreman, had nothing but praise for her team.
"They were fabulous. They were on top of their game," she said.
Being on top of their game meant that the team won gold in their division and not only that; they beat their competition by 220 pins. For Foreman, the emotions during the games were difficult to put into words.
"There's certainly pride and there's joy in seeing them enjoy themselves because they did have a good time."
Foreman, like Chubbs, said that coaching Special Olympics is a calling, one that is fulfilling.
"To watch these athletes, grow certainly in their sport, but in, in their self-confidence and the ability to relate to the world around them," Foreman said.
Jayden Fetterly of the bowling team would have a high score in the third game, with 212 points. He also won silver in the Men's Singles Competition (Division 10), while Christian Skelly (Division 4) also won silver, Division 2's silver medal went to Evan Clowes, while a division one bronze was won by Luke Petersen.
But it wasn't just medals that Airdrie's Olympians got. They also helped out their teammates.
Four of Airdrie's floor hockey athletes helped the Spruce Grove team to fill out its ranks - as without them, Spruce Grove would not have been able to enter the competition.
Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to email@example.com