Locals win Special Olympics Summer Games medals
Local athletes Rachel Belfour (left), Brian Dinwoodie (middle) and Jeff Shand (right) brought home a slew of medals from the 2017 Special Olympics Provincial Summer Games held in the Peel Region this past July.
PEMBROKE & PETAWAWA —Three local athletes achieved a sizable medal haul at the 2017 Special Olympics Provincial Summer Games this past July.
From July 13 to 16 in Brampton and Caledon, Petawawa’s Rachel Belfour along with Brian Dinwoodie and Jeff Shand from Pembroke, represented the Eastern Ontario Region at the 2017 Games.
The three athletes were among more than 800 competitors who were attending from all seven regions of Ontario to compete in a myriad of sports that included track and field, golf, bocce, soccer and softball.
“They all had to train at least twice a week – once in their own sport and once in something else. As well, all of them are involved in basketball, bocce, swimming and other sports throughout the year,” said Pat Durston, community co-ordinator for the Pembroke and Area Special Olympics. “They’re all very committed and train regularly. We’ve even had them practice in the rain some days.”
Belfour and Shand both competed in track and field which tested their strength, speed and focus in activities such as javelin, running, shot-put, standing long jump and running long jump.
Putting her best foot forward, Belfour earned three gold medals in standing long jump, javelin and shot-put along with two silvers in the 100 and 200 meter runs.
Durston, who happens to be Belfour’s mother, expressed her pride in her daughter’s accomplishment.
“I'm very proud of Rachel and she is very good at these sports,” said Durston. “It helps with her self-confidence, it keeps her busy and she loves doing it.”
Fellow teammate Shand took home four medals that included gold in javelin, silver in shot-put, silver in running long jump, bronze in the 100 meter and fourth place in the 200 meter.
“I’ve been to the Summer Games before and I always enjoy going. Normally I do whatever sport I qualify for and this year I did track and field – I love running and getting the fresh air,” said Shand.
Dinwoodie – who has competed in snowshoeing at many Winter Special Olympics Games – welcomed the summer season and put his golf skills to the test. With a score of 74 in his first game and 63 in his second, he scored an impressive silver.
Dinwoodie expressed that it’s thanks to his coach Patrick Tighe – who also served as Dinwoodie’s caddie at the Games – that he achieved such success.
Following their success at the Summer Provincial Games, all three athletes have a chance of qualifying for a spot at the Canada National Summer Games which will be held in Antigonish from July 31-August 4, 2018. They will receive the news by October or November of this year.
“They make the decision based on how well the athletes placed at the Provincial Games, how committed they are and whether they can go for the whole week,” said Durston.