Ashley Thomas is “beyond pumped” for her first ever Special Olympics games.
Thomas, 30, is part of Special Olympics Canada soccer team, which is part of a contingent of 89 athletes from across Canada that are gearing up for the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Germany next month – the first time the games have been back on the global stage in four years.
They’ll be competing in nine sports, including; athletics, basketball, bocce, tenpin bowling, golf, powerlifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer and swimming.
While Thomas, of Nova Scotia, has never competed with Special Olympics before, she said she’s been looking forward to being part of the women’s soccer team.
“(Training) is actually going really awesome – my touch is impeccable,” Thomas told Black Press Media, adding that she was most looking forward to building a connection with her teammates.
One of those teammates in Alyssa Chapman, of Prince Edward Island, who has been involved with Special Olympics PEI for 20 years. This will be her first time competing in soccer with Special Olympics, having previously competed in swimming.
This will be the third World Games for Chapman, 30.
“It feels pretty good. I’m pretty excited to be with the girls.”
Powerlifters, soccer and basketball players and the bocce team were in Richmond recently for a training camp in preparation for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin June 17 to 23. It’s the first time the World Summer Games have been played since the 2019 Games in the United Arab Emirates.
Meanwhile, powerlifter Josée Seguin, of Ontario, is looking to surpass what she lifted in 2019. Seguin has won three gold medals at the National Summer Games, as well as top lifter of Canada.
“My best dead lift is 297 lbs. My best squat, back in 2019, was 175 and my best bench was 125,” she explained, noting she’s looking to lift 305 lbs., 220, and 145, respectively.
Special Olympics Canada says this group is the first truly pan-Canadian team since the past few “unprecedented years have created a unique opportunity for this team.”
Because of the cancellation of the games through the pandemic, athletes quota was distributed based on athlete registration at each provincial/territorial chapter, instead of being based on results at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games.