Quesnel is punching above its weight class in Special Olympics.
The Quesnel organization was the only one to compete in two programs and the only one to run two separate track programs during the summer, according to Rick Prosk, program co-ordinator and head coach for track and field at the club.
Both athletes and volunteers were eager to get back to practising and competing.
“Our programs are pretty active,” Prosk said. “We run our programs year-round, and we have volunteers that are invested in the work that they are doing.”
The club’s athletes were honoured at a virtual wrap up for what Prosk called a “summer-fall” season by Special Olympics B.C.
“For the virtual competition, we definitely had the most participation,” he said. “There’s some really large locals, like Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby — any of those Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley locals have hundreds of athletes typically.”
Quesnel track athletes made up nearly half of all provincial participants at a virtual track meet that capped off the season. They also ran a golf program.
“When it came to restarting our programs, I had to find separate groups of coaches; there couldn’t be any overlap,” Prosk said. “Typically, I would coach track and golf, but I couldn’t coach golf because I was tied to the track program I was with.”
The COVID-19 pandemic caused clubs across the province to drastically reduce the amount of programming they offered. Normally, the track program would have ended by July — instead, it didn’t even start until August, and only limited self-contained groups could participate in each session.
“The golf season turned out to be a pretty short season by the time we got out there — altogether six to eight weeks,” Prosk said. “It was the best we could do. My sense is the athletes appreciated the opportunity to do it, regardless of the season or the weather.”
Winter programs for Special Olympics Quesnel are getting underway. The club plans on running curling, swimming, bowling and rhythmic gymnastics during the winter months. Normally, they would run floor hockey, fitness and basketball, but COVID-19 restrictions meant those would mostly be skill development.
“You can’t run a competitive sport training organization and not have competition,” Prosk said. “We can’t just do sport training for the next however many years and not have any opportunity to compete. These virtual competitions, it’s certainly not as good as being there in person, but it gives the athletes a sense where they stand.”
Prosk added even the programs the club is running have been changed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Athletes who won provincial awards will be receiving their honours through the mail.
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