Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Seven from province on Team Canada at Special Olympics Games

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Austin Horrox loves to tell fish stories. "I go fishing in Selkirk," he said, spreading his hands out as far as they could go. "I caught a pickerel once, this big."

When it comes to snowshoeing, however, Horrox isn't stringing anyone a line. He's out to win gold.

Horrox and six other athletes were introduced Monday as Manitoba's contribution to Team Canada at the Special Olympics International World Winter Games, Feb. 7-13 in Boise, Idaho.

Joining him on the team are cross-country skier Brita Hall, of Winnipeg, and snowshoers Courtney Cook, Adam Wakeman, Leaha-Marie Van Steelant and Ashlee McLeod, all of Winnipeg, and Carrie Froese, of Winkler.

"Snowshoeing is great," said Horrox, who also competes in track and field, curling and soccer. "It's a lot of hard work, but I train five days a week."

Qualification for Team Canada was based on performances at the Special Olympics Canada national winter games last year in Quebec City. In all, 3,000 athletes from 100 countries will compete for the hardware in Boise.

"Earning the right to represent Team Canada and Manitoba at an international level is a tremendous achievement in any sport," said Jennifer Campbell, Special Olympics Manitoba vice-president of sport and programs. "SOM is proud to be able to provide our athletes with the opportunity to train and compete at such a high level."

Van Steelant, who also loves to listen to Dolly Parton music, says she is the old veteran on the team. "I've been in Special Olympics for 25 years. I'm 35 now, and I train five days a week. I'm going down there to win gold."

Hall has also been to a few games, but she says they never lose their appeal. "I'm really excited, and I've been training really hard. We're going to win a bunch of medals down there."

Manitoba's contingent links up with 113 other team members from other parts of Canada when they arrive in Boise on Monday night. Together, they'll compete in six of the seven sports, including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating. Canada isnot entered in snowboarding.

Since being selected to Team Canada, Manitoba's seven athletes have been involved in a national training program, which focuses on training and fitness, as well as sport training camps throughout the year.

Froese uses the prairie around Winkler as her major training ground for snowshoeing. She also runs track, bowls and plays basketball and baseball. She says she's going to win medals, "but if I don't win, I'm just going to have fun and make some friends out there."

Manitoba's contingent

for Boise Winter Games

 

Leaha-Marie Van Steelant

Home: Winnipeg.

Sport: Snowshoeing.

History: 2005 World Winter Games; 2008 National Winter Games.

 

Adam Wakeman

Home: Winnipeg.

Sport: Snowshoeing.

History: 2007 World Summer Games; 2008 National Winter Games.

 

Ashlee McLeod

Home: Winnipeg.

Sport: Snowshoeing.

History: 2002 National Summer Games; 2003 World Summer Games; 2005 INAS-FID World Games: 2008 National Winter Games.

 

 

Courtney Cook

Home: Winnipeg.

Sport: Snowshoeing.

History: 2006 National Summer Games; 2008 National Winter Games.

 

Carrie Froese

Home: Winkler.

Sport: Snowshoeing.

History: 2008 National Winter Games.

 

Brita Hall

Home: Winnipeg.

Sport: Cross-country skiing.

History: Every national winter and summer games since 1993; 2005 world winter games; 2007 world summer games; 2008 national winter games.

 

Austin Horrox

Home: Winnipeg.

Sport: Snowshoeing.

History: 2008 national winter games; 2005 Manitoba summer games; 2007 Manitoba winter games.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 3, 2009 C4

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